Argentina will play the United States for the third time in less than a month, a feat that is as beneficial as it is worrisome — the Argentinians have put together a couple of good quarters against the Americans but they also know that they may have simultaneously ratcheted up Team USA’s intensity after Facundo Campazzo intentionally hit Carmelo Anthony in the groin.
Manu Ginobili averaged 21 points while shooting 55% from the field in their two losses to Team USA. He’s excelled in the pick-and-roll intensive offense and their ability to create solid looks off simple action against the United States defense is encouraging.
But don’t tell Ginobili, who believes Argentina has a 5-10 percent chance of defeating Team USA today. It’s a realistic number given the circumstances but it doesn’t exude confidence on Ginobili’s part.
“The odds are against us,” Ginobili said. “We have a 10 percent or even a five percent chance of winning but we are going to fight for this.
We are going to try and turn the ball over less. Make a few shots in the second half and don’t let them run. Then if they get inspired and LeBron (James) or Kobe Bryant or someone get hot and hit 20 threes like they did in the last game, then there’s nothing you can do.”
Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski expects a victory but he won’t discount Ginobili’s squad in a format that invites high volatility, a single-elimination game.
“What I’ve learned at here is that there are a lot of very good teams,” Krzyzewski said. “We played well enough tonight to beat a very good team without their starting guard. (But) We are capable of losing here. That team (Argentina) is capable of beating us.”
It’s certainly possible that Argentina manafactures enough good looks in the pick-and-roll, utilizes Luis Scola effectively and make enough 3-pointers to eliminate the heavily favored Americans. But, as Argentina’s head coach Julio Lamas said Wednesday, they will need to play a perfect game for 40 minutes.
The reason being?
“If you play five minutes badly, they can kill you, they’ll score 20 points,” Lamas said.