In this year's Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
Like Russia, Lithuania qualified for the Olympics by way of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. After losing a group game to Nigeria, who also qualified for the Olympics, Lithuania walked through its three remaining games and earned a trip to London. These Games are a chance to bounce back after a disappointing fifth-place finish in EuroBasket 2011.
The XXXth Olympic Games are well under way, and much like the previous Games, this one is booooring. You’d think by now that watching a Russian teenager shooting an arrow wildly off target would get the blood going — but no. Not on YouTube and not in front of a billion people during the Olympics. But do you know what would make it more exciting? Nothing. Nothing in the world would make it exciting. I tricked you. Either way, the bottom line is, as lethargic as the events are, it’s our duty to attempt to spice them up.
That, combined with the fact that this is a business, and it’s imperative to build a gambling nest egg for ... you guessed it ... preseason football.
I’ve examined the remaining Olympic propositions the gambling gods have generously offered. The best part about this is I am not at all familiar with these events, which means I actually have a puncher’s chance at winning.
Team USA's small-ball lineup, the one that doesn’t feature a true center, has been talked about a lot in the buildup to the Olympics — and for good reason. Going small would be the only hole other teams could exploit, especially on the defensive end. Going into their game against Spain, the USA lineups without a true big had been outscored by one point in their other exhibition games, according to John Schuhmann of NBA.com. Any time Tyson Chandler has been in foul trouble (remember, in FIBA play, players get five fouls instead of six), the United States has struggled. We saw something similar in the first quarter against Spain yesterday. After Chandler picked up his second foul, Team USA had a lineup featuring LeBron James at center, Carmelo Anthony at power forward, and Kevin Durant at small forward. Serge Ibaka exploited the smaller lineup with 10 straight points.
Kyrie Irving’s quest to win the Internet continued on Thursday. A couple months removed from dressing up as an old man and hustling dudes in pickup games, Irving came back to YouTube yesterday — this time challenging Kobe Bryant to a $50,000 game of one-on-one after a Team USA training session. Word out of Vegas is that Irving has torn it up in scrimmages against the Olympic squad. That makes sense. I’m not sure what other sort of feat could inspire this much chutzpah. The back-and-forth was so good that we decided to bring you the five best moments.