Olympic Quarterfinals Preview: Matchups, NBA players to watch & more
Team USA beat Spain for Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012. Their rivalry continues with a date in this year's quarterfinals.
From NBA.com Staff
The group stage is over, and quarterfinal matchups have been set in men’s basketball at the Tokyo Olympics. Eight countries still have dreams of winning gold, but one loss from here on out will dash those hopes.
The quarterfinals begin on Monday night (eastern time) and continue early Tuesday. Below is a look at each of the matchups, game time, players to watch, and more.
USA vs. Spain
• 12:40 a.m. ET, Aug. 3
Team USA will face a familiar foe in Spain, the country it defeated in the gold medal game in both the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London. The two teams are matching up earlier than expected in Tokyo, as both finished second in their respective groups despite being favored coming in.
After a narrow loss to France in the opening qualifier, the U.S. bounced back to trounce Iran and Czech Republic in blowout wins. The additions of Finals participants Khris Middleton, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday and replacements JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson have stabilized a deep group that had trouble finding its footing at first.
Spain is always in the gold medal mix come Olympics time, and they’ll look to shrug off a loss to Luka Doncic and Slovenia to close out group play and make another deep run. With Cavaliers guard and Olympics veteran Ricky Rubio at the helm, Spain went 2-1 in Group C action to qualify for the quarterfinal round.
Players to Watch
Kevin Durant put his name in the record books, surpassing Carmelo Anthony as Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in Olympic history with a 23-point performance against Czech Republic. Damian Lillard has been a steadying presence, leading the United States in scoring with 21 points in a Game 2 win over Iran. Keep an eye out for Jayson Tatum, who came on strong in Team USA’s final group stage matchup with a 27-point effort. For Spain, brothers Marc and Pau Gasol remain key pieces in the frontcourt.
Australia vs. Argentina
• 8 a.m. ET, Aug. 3
A veteran group of NBA stars propelled the Aussies in sweeping the group stage with a clean 3-0 record, scoring wins over Nigeria, Italy and Germany. Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum & Co. have provided stable scoring around the ever-dynamic Patty Mills, whose experience has been invaluable to newcomers to an Australian program hoping to win its first ever Olympic medal.
Coming off of a silver medal at the FIBA World Cup in 2019, Argentina is looking to return to the Olympic medal stand for the first time since 2008. The country famously shocked the United States in the semifinals and went on to capture gold in 2004. Argentina qualified for the quarterfinals as one of the two best third-place teams in group play, having finished 1-2 in Group C.
Players to Watch
The aforementioned Mills has been an absolute spark plug, averaging over 21 points per contest while also handing out over 5 assists. Matisse Thybulle has been a defensive menace with 10 total steals and plenty of disruptive plays.
Argentina boasts a lot of NBA talent on its roster, from crafty point guard Facundo Campazzo of the Denver Nuggets to 2020 first-round draft pick Leandro Bolmaro, who could suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves soon. But the team may be led by the presence of former longtime NBA forward Luis Scola, who is appearing in his fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo.
France vs. Italy
• 4:20 a.m. ET, Aug. 3
France’s 3-0 record in Group A play was highlighted by an impressive 83-76 upset win in its opener against Team USA. The French squad used its stifling defense to rally back and stun the U.S., holding Team USA to just 36 percent field goal shooting, and 31 percent from beyond the arc. The upset catapulted France to back-to-back blow-out victories over Czech Republic and Iran.
Italy delivered an impressive showing in group play, posting a 2-1 record, good enough for second place in Group B. The team’s two victories include a 92-82 win over Germany, and a 80-71 win over Nigeria. Resiliency has been key to the Italians’ success, as they outscored Germany and Nigeria by 14 and 16 points in the fourth quarter, respectively. Italy’s lone loss came at the hands of Group B winner, Australia.
Players to Watch
France wields a boatload of NBA notables who shined in group play, such as Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. But Celtics guard Evan Fournier has shouldered the load for the squad, averaging just over 17 points per game, including a 28-point outing against Team USA. Fournier’s impressive play has France looking like one of the favorites to win gold, and its first medal since the 2000 Sydney games.
Warriors second-year guard Nico Mannion has shined bright for Italy. Mannion dropped 21 points in Italy’s 3-point loss to Australia, and averaged 15 points per game in group play. NBA veteran Danilo Gallinari will also be one of the main drivers for the Italians, who are looking to earn a medal for the first time since 2004, where they won silver in Athens.
Slovenia vs. Germany
• 9 p.m. ET, Aug. 2
Led by Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, Slovenia has reached the quarterfinals in its first-ever appearance in the Olympics in men’s basketball, going 3-0 to take the top spot in Group C. Slovenia defeated Argentina by 18 in their Olympic opener, and then crushed host nation, Japan, by a whopping 35 points despite a stellar 34-point outing from young Washington Wizards star, Rui Hachimura. For their final act, they upset favored Spain by eight to win Group C.
Germany earned a spot in the quarterfinals as one of the two best third-place finishers during the group stage. The Germans went 1-2 during the preliminary round, and knocked off Nigeria, 99-92 to secure their spot.
Players to Watch
Luka, Luka and more Luka. The two-time All-NBA forward has not disappointed in his first Olympics, averaging an Olympic-best 28.3 points through three games. Doncic exploded for an electrifying 48 points in his Olympics debut against Argentina, and he will have to keep up his extraordinary play for Slovenia to earn a spot on the podium in the first Olympic Games in the country’s history.
Germany boasts NBA talent up front, in Orlando Magic forward Moritz Wagner and Washington Wizards big man Isaac Bonga. Wagner is averaging 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game during the Olympics.