Coach K: “Argentina forced us to play really well”

By Quixem Ramirez

The United States defeated Argentina in the semifinals by 26 points, a margin that showed the talent disparity between the two teams — a stark indicator of Team USA’s dominance considering this remains universally true even against the best international teams.

While the Argentineans allowed 53.1% shooting from the field, including 64.1% on 2-pointers, head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes they forced Team USA to play better.

“We are very pleased with our performance … against a team (Argentina) who has great respect,”     Krzyzewski said. “Argentina … forced us to play really well to win.”

The heroics of Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola weren’t enough to turn their effort into a legitimate threat. Carlos Delfino added in three 3-pointers and 15 points but even his shooting acuity couldn’t turn their blowout loss into a contested game, drawn to the wire.

Naturally, with their gold medal match on Sunday against Spain, the Americans will begin to look ahead to their newest challenge. Pau Gasol, arguably the most productive player in London, and Spain’s bench, a feature that Argentina lacks, gives them creative leeway to explore potential lineups combinations and methods of attack without squandering even more talent. Injuries have been a big part of their tournament and thus aren’t as equipped to upset Team USA.

“I know they have Pau Gasol in one of the five best players in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “… Calderon     made crucial shots. They have a tremendous rotation pivots and a deep bench. We can win, we respect     and we prepare hard. I hope we make a great game.”

Spain quelled the Americans’ 38-point onslaught in the first quarter of their encounter in the 2008 Games. They didn’t waver, turning the game that temporarily exposed, and nearly toppled, the No. 1 ranked Americans. It can be done; and perhaps Spain is the only team that can bring that vision into fruition.