Aug 9 2012 11:20AM

Final Four: The Olympics Tournament Preview


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

USA (6-0) vs. ARGENTINA (4-2)

Best Players On The Court: You want matchups? This is Kobe vs. Manu. In the NBA, Kobe Bryant has the upper hand, but here in FIBA play, Manu Ginobili has more jewelry and may still be the best player in international basketball. If Ginobili no longer rules with La Generacion Dorada, we know who the reigning king is. The one-and-only LeBron James, who himself is on a ring-and-medal quest in 2012. However, King James also faces a takeover threat from global legend Luis Scola, who is the Superman to Ginobili's Batmanu on Argentina's Golden Generation team of the 21st Century. James, who has run his high-post offense to perfection this Olympics, now has the added responsibility of defensively focusing on Scola in a game with everything on the line. It makes for a hairy matchup. Don't be surprised if LeBron calls on NBA rival Kevin Durant to carry the scoring load down the stretch in this one (Durant is tearing up Olympics foes with his .700 true shooting percentage) ... Teamwork, Luck & Chemistry: Expect Argentina to roll with its Fave Five til the wheels fall off. I expect Ginobili, Scola, Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni and Pablo Prigioni to all play between 36-40 minutes in this one. It's their swan song, if they lose. It's the third act dream ending, if they win. A victory Friday would be bigger than Argentina's 2002 win over the Americans, when Argentina was the first country to beat an NBA-comprised USA Basketball squad. Heck, it might even be bigger than the country's 2004 Olympic gold medal ... History In The Making: As big as this game is for Argentina, USA has similar aspirations in its legacy quest. Australia gave the Americans a good game for three quarters in the quarterfinals Wednesday, but in the end, USA won by 33. A similar margin over Argentina would raise this team's all-time stock considerably. Plus, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were on that 2004 USA Basketball squad that got bronze to Argentina's gold. Granted, LBJ and Melo did get their revenge when they won the 2008 Olympics, but they have to finish the job. This is the rubber match, after all.
Prediction: USA 100, Argentina 85.

USA

PG Chris Paul ... 6 games, 147 minutes, 45 points, 16 rebounds, 32 assists, 16 steals, 0 blocks, .610 true shooting percentage

SF Kevin Durant ... 6 games, 143 minutes, 107 points, 33 rebounds, 20 assists, 11 steals, 2 blocks, .700 true shooting percentage

PF LeBron James ... 6 games, 141 minutes, 69 points, 31 rebounds, 34 assists, 9 steals, 1 blocks, .648 true shooting percentage

PG Deron Williams ... 6 games, 115 minutes, 60 points, 10 rebounds, 30 assists, 4 steals, 1 blocks, .561 true shooting percentage

C Kevin Love ... 6 games, 103 minutes, 75 points, 43 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocks, .710 true shooting percentage

PF Carmelo Anthony ... 6 games, 100 minutes, 104 points, 27 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 0 blocks, .729 true shooting percentage

SG Kobe Bryant ... 6 games, 93 minutes, 67 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals, 0 blocks, .583 true shooting percentage

PG Russell Westbrook ... 6 games, 93 minutes, 58 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, 7 steals, 0 blocks, .569 true shooting percentage

SF Andre Iguodala ... 6 games, 82 minutes, 32 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, 5 steals, 1 blocks, .847 true shooting percentage

SG James Harden ... 6 games, 68 minutes, 39 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, .603 true shooting percentage

C Tyson Chandler ... 6 games, 67 minutes, 26 points, 28 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, .624 true shooting percentage

C Anthony Davis ... 5 games, 48 minutes, 26 points, 17 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steals, 3 blocks, .662 true shooting percentage

ARGENTINA

SG Manu Ginobili ... 6 games, 182 minutes, 116 points, 38 rebounds, 27 assists, 10 steals, 0 blocks, .673 true shooting percentage

SF Carlos Delfino ... 6 games, 180 minutes, 92 points, 19 rebounds, 9 assists, 7 steals, 1 blocks, .593 true shooting percentage

C Luis Scola ... 6 games, 177 minutes, 118 points, 30 rebounds, 16 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks, ..589 true shooting percentage

PF Andres Nocioni ... 6 games, 153 minutes, 60 points, 23 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, .568 true shooting percentage

PG Facundo Campazzo ... 6 games, 126 minutes, 24 points, 15 rebounds, 22 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocks, .627 true shooting percentage

PG Pablo Prigioni ... 4 games, 111 minutes, 22 points, 9 rebounds, 26 assists, 7 steals, 0 blocks, .486 true shooting percentage

C Juan Pedro Gutierrez ... 6 games, 75 minutes, 42 points, 19 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steals, 3 blocks, .605 true shooting percentage

PF Leonardo Gutierrez ... 6 games, 69 minutes, 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steals, 0 blocks, .622 true shooting percentage

SF Hernan Jasen ... 5 games, 67 minutes, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steals, 0 blocks, .472 true shooting percentage

SF Marcos Mata ... 3 games, 27 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steals, 2 blocks, .643 true shooting percentage

C Martin Leiva ... 3 games, 16 minutes, 2 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, .125 true shooting percentage

PF Federico Kammerichs ... 2 games, 16 minutes, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steals, 0 blocks, 1.000 true shooting percentage


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

RUSSIA (5-1) vs. SPAIN (4-2)

Best Players On The Court: Andrei Kirilenko has been playing like a tournament MVP, but do you know why Russia is 5-1 in these Olympics and still rolling strong despite Alexey Shved's game going south the last there contests? It's because Victor Khryapa is playing like a Kirilenko with his improved all-around game (12 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and strong D against Lithuania Wednesday). It's because Timofey Mozgov is having as good an Olympics as any center out there (yes, I cannot believe I wrote that either). And it's because Russia Coach David Blatt has not only had the best coaching performance of any polo-wearing shot-caller out there, he has earned himself numerous NBA coach offers in the year to come. If Spain is going to counter-act all that, they are going to rely on a super heroic performance on D because their offense has been lacking throughout the Olympics (9th of 12 Olympic teams in points-in-the-paint). Pau and Marc Gasol beat France Wednesday by anchoring a defense that held Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum to 9-for-32 shooting, consequently limiting Les Bleus to 59 points in Spain's 7-point win ... Teamwork, Luck & Chemistry: Half of Spain's team has been together for half-a-dozen years so you know they will be fully focused on Friday's game. Russia is just developing that chemistry. But you have to love how Blatt pulled Shved from a close contest when he wasn't paying attention in the huddle (Ponkrashov filled in admirably and Russia won). You have to love their clutch play throughout (who can forget Fridzon's clutch 3 over Brazil--the shot where Leandro Barbosa took his legs out and no foul was called). You have to love Kirilenko's leadership and support of his coach, saying Phil Jackson couldn't have done a better job with this team ... History In The Making: It just feels like this is Russia's turn to win. But if Spain plays like Spain historically does--winning silver at 2008 Olympics and gold at 2006 World--that will seem right too. Because no matter who they meet in the Olympic finals between USA and Argentina--that Sunday showdown definitely would have a Team of the 21st Century vibe to it all
Prediction: Russia 78, Spain 76.

RUSSIA

Sf Andrei Kirilenko ... 6 games, 202 minutes, 110 points, 44 rebounds, 8 assists, 13 steals, 9 blocks, .664 true shooting percentage

PF Victor Khryapa ... 6 games, 162 minutes, 48 points, 37 rebounds, 28 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, .564 true shooting percentage

PG Alexey Shved ... 6 games, 141 minutes, 64 points, 19 rebounds, 33 assists, 6 steals, 1 blocks, .489 true shooting percentage

SG Vitaliy Fridzon ... 6 games, 135 minutes, 65 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 steals, 5 blocks, .697 true shooting percentage

SG Anton Ponkrashov ... 6 games, 130 minutes, 36 points, 9 rebounds, 28 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, .505 true shooting percentage

C Timofey Mozgov ... 6 games, 127 minutes, 76 points, 25 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, .695 true shooting percentage

SF Sergey Monya ... 6 games, 121 minutes, 28 points, 24 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, .390 true shooting percentage

C Sasha Kaun ... 6 games, 102 minutes, 42 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 6 blocks, .475 true shooting percentage

SF Semyon Antonov ... 5 games, 30 minutes, 13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 blocks, .945 true shooting percentage

SG Evgeny Voronov ... 5 games, 22 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, .000 true shooting percentage

PG Dimitry Khvostov ... 4 games, 21 minutes, 3 points, 1 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, .521 true shooting percentage

SG Sergey Karasev ... 2 games, 6 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, .000 true shooting percentage

SPAIN

C Marc Gasol ... 6 games, 164 minutes, 73 points, 32 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steals, 3 blocks, .572 true shooting percentage

PF Pau Gasol ... 6 games, 161 minutes, 113 points, 41 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steals, 8 blocks, .655 true shooting percentage

SG Rudy Fernandez ... 6 games, 149 minutes, 52 points, 22 rebounds, 20 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks, .598 true shooting percentage

PG Jose Calderon ... 6 games, 127 minutes, 42 points, 13 rebounds, 16 assists, 6 steals, 0 blocks, .550 true shooting percentage

SG Sergio Llull ... 6 games, 119 minutes, 32 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 0 steals, 1 blocks, .418 true shooting percentage

SF Fernando San Emeterio ... 6 games, 101 minutes, 20 points, 20 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steals, 0 blocks, .460 true shooting percentage

SG Juan Carlos Navarro ... 4 games, 95 minutes, 42 points, 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, .489 true shooting percentage

PF Serge Ibaka ... 6 games, 92 minutes, 50 points, 24 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steals, 9 blocks, .640 true shooting percentage

PG Sergio Rodriguez ... 6 games, 77 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 15 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, .377 true shooting percentage

C Felipe Reyes ... 6 games, 61 minutes, 25 points, 24 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 blocks, .525 true shooting percentage

PG Victor Sada ... 4 games, 31 minutes, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, .732 true shooting percentage

SF Victor Claver ... 4 games, 23 minutes, 3 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steals, 1 blocks, .188 true shooting percentage