Spain, meet Team USA. They’re the team everyone will put their money on to win everything. They remain your toughest competition; their victory in the 2008 Olympic final leaving an indelible mark on the international game.
Their roster consists of the most athletically gifted point guards in the world coupled with a plethora of wings that can kill you from shooting, slashing — and, if you’re LeBron James, the high post as well.
But they aren’t necessarily invincible. Their one inestimable flaw is Tyson Chandler — or rather, more acutely, the lack of other players like Chandler. They shouldn’t expect him to be the only indomitable rim protector, impervious to every attack on the rim. Yet they are out of sheer necessity.
That could potentially tip the sides in Spain’s favor in a single-elimination format akin to the knockout round. The Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka compose a frontcourt with the ability to score from the post, pepper the defense with acute passes from the pinch post and defend the rim effectively. Ibaka’s athleticism allows him to cover an incredible amount of ground defensively as well.
A frontcourt devoid of ample support isn’t as imposing, though. Spain doesn’t have that problem as they are supported with Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Victor Claver, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez. Second-ranked Spain remains the obvious threat to defeat the Americans.
Today’s exhibition game will give us a look on how Team USA’s frontcourt will fare against the Spain. While I think the United States’ deep roster will pull them to victory in today’s game (albeit a close, very close one), this match will show us how Spain will utilize their frontcourt and whether their size will even matter. It won’t be a definitive picture but it’ll be a picture — albeit one that could look a lot different in London.