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USA A Lock for Gold? Not So Fast

Team USA, loaded with NBA stars nearly always wins the Olympic Gold Medal. So why will 2016 be different? There is a great chance it won’t, but it is certainly not a lock. The teams from Spain will have a say-so in who wins the gold in Rio.

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Why does Spain have a good chance of winning? There are a couple of reasons. One, they too are loaded with NBA and professional talent. Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon. Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Nikola Mirotic, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Navarro, and Sergio Rodriguez are all players NBA fans have seen perform or are still in the league. Two players who are not on the roster NBA fans know well are Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Gasol is out due to injury and Ibaka did not make the team. That shows how good they are when a player of Ibaka’s caliber was left off the roster.

Second, the US team has a great roster as well, but perhaps more noteworthy are players they’d like to have on the team but do not. The biggest names in the game of basketball, Lebron James and Stephen Curry, are sitting the games out after a couple of grueling summers of playoff basketball. That is a lot of talent the team will not have. They will also not have Blake Griffin or Chris Paul due to injuries either.

US fans cannot be blamed for their mild disinterested courtside during the warm up games, but this is sure to change when they run into Spain. You won’t spot too many fans engrossed in their mobile phone games or other forms of online entertainment once this game rolls around.

As talented as Team USA is, these are guys they’d love to have in uniform in Rio. The team is still made up of a lot of great NBA players such as Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Deandre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green, DeMar Derozan, Demarcus Cousins, all of who are on NBA rosters and are stars on their teams. Make no mistake, the USA team is still the most talented.

But does that mean they are unbeatable? Spain has been the team to give the Americans the best games in recent Olympics. In 2012, the two teams met in the Gold Medal Game and the final score was USA 107 Spain 100. Spain in coming into this Olympics with many of the same players, the US team has had an almost complete roster turnover. So if the game is close, and there really is no reason to believe it won’t be, which team will have the advantage?

Spain also knows it can beat Team USA. They are one of the few who have beaten the Americans and one of the extremely few that have done it since 1992 when NBA players first played for Team USA. Spain beat them in the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis. Of course, they would love to have Marc Gasol to team up with his brother, but they still have a lot of great players that can match up with the Americans.

So, while USA is still the favorite, do not sleep on the Spanish team. If and when these two meet for the gold medal, this will be a game, not a blowout. Do not be shocked, if Spain wins it all. They won’t be intimidated.

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