Thursday , Aug , 21 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Dream Team killers or Kobe and Lebron’s redemption: Previewing Argentina and Redeem Team USA’s semi-final

I call them Dream Team killers. After all, Argentina is the only country to have beaten Team USA more than once since NBA players received permission to suit up in international competition. They’ve done it twice. Argentina beat a dysfunctional American side at the 2002 World Championship in Indiana and, two years later, at the 2004 Athens Olympics …

Dream Team killers or Kobe and Lebron's redemption: Previewing Argentina and Redeem Team USA's semi-final

I call them Dream Team killers. After all, Argentina is the only country to have beaten Team USA more than once since NBA players received permission to suit up in international competition.

They’ve done it twice. Argentina beat a dysfunctional American side at the 2002 World Championship in Indiana and, two years later, at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Will there be a third time? On Friday, Argentina and Team USA will meet in the semi-finals of the medal round. The winner advances to the gold medal game. The loser plays for bronze.

To quote De La Soul ‘Stakes Is High’ for both sides. Argentina wants to re-establish her spot on the basketball stage after some poor finishes in international play. And Team USA wants redemption. Below is your semi-finals preview:

Keys to Argentina winning: 

  • Pray. And pray hard. Perhaps, my man and the greatest soccer player since Pele, Diego Maradona can send his country on group mass.  Not trying to demean the former world champs, but this American side is virtually unbeatable when making shots. Argentina must play immaculate basketball, while Team USA must have an off-day.
  • Manu Ginobili must be perfect. Yes, perfect. The swing has to hit everything, get lockdown specialist Kobe Bryant in foul trouble, and irritate the Americans. 
  • Avoid foul trouble. The Argentines only go six deep because they are without valuable rotations players like Walter Hermann and Pepe Sanchez. 
  • Luis Scola must deliver. The MVP of the 2007 Tournament of Americas’ has to post even better numbers than his impressive Olympic averages of 18 points and seven rebounds.

Keys to Team USA winning: 

  • Team USA can’t lose their cool against agitators like Ginobili or Andres Nocioni. Argentina’s feistiness distracts opponents and they’ll feed off a flustered American side. 
  • Embrace the momentum. The Americans beat Argentina at the Tournament of the Americas and at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. So Team USA should use whatever psychological advantage they can muster from past victories. 
  • Continue making shots against Argentina’s man-to-man defence. Team USA has faced a steady diet of zones; they need to punish the South Americans for daring to play a straight man-to-man defence.       
  • Attack, attack, attack. America must go to the basket and draw fouls. Argentina is small and, again, has a depleted rotation of six players. Take advantage and make them play reserves. 

Friday’s game is bright and early at 10:15 eastern, 7:15 pacific. Chances are, third time won’t be a charm for the undermanned Argentines. Those Dream Team Killer days are likely over.

Argentina or Team USA? Who wins Friday’s semi-finals? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts and return to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Mr. Wright.