U.S. On Course At The Halfway Point, Showdown With Argentina Up Next

LONDON – From one old nemesis to another.

The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team has hit what they expect to be the halfway point of their Olympic experience, and in the middle they’re finishing up group play with games with familiar foes that will force this team to reveal itself.

Saturday’s 99-94 win over Lithuania was closer than perhaps anyone expected after their record-setting win over Nigeria. But Monday’s final warm-up game against Argentina (5:15 p.m. ET), should it be a close game, won’t surprise anyone in the U.S. camp.

They are prepared to scrap for gold and insist they are right on course, whether they win big or not.

“The big wins freaked people out. They probably thought every game was going to be like Tunisia or Nigeria,” said U.S. reserve swingman James Harden of the 47-point and 83-point beating administered to those two teams last week. “We knew that wasn’t realistic. It was bound to happen, that we would let up a little coming off of that 83-point victory. Even when you’re not trying to, it’s hard not to be really confident. Obviously, we needed that [Lithuania] game to get us back on track. Argentina and the rest of these guys we are about to face are something special. And we have to be ready for whatever they throw at us.”

Much like Lithuania Saturday, Argentina will show up with a seasoned group that has tasted success against the U.S. in international competition before.

They beat the U.S. at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis and ended the U.S. gold medal big two years later in the Olympics in Athens, disposing of a team LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony played on in the semifinals on their way to gold. Argentina holds the distinction of being the only team to defeat the U.S. twice since the original Dream Team ushered in the NBA-included era of international basketball.

With program stalwarts like Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola leading the way and the knowledge that no lead is safe against this team, they won by just six after enjoying a huge early lead in a friendly contest just a few weeks ago in Spain, this last game of pool play is much more than just a formality for both sides.

“They are more than just Ginobili and Scola,” Kevin Love said. “Manu might be the heart and soul of their team. But they have tons of talent, they are well-coached and they get up into you in ways that teams that haven’t been together as long and haven’t had as much success cannot. They know exactly who they are and what they want to do every time they take the floor.”

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski indicated that his team needed the last month to find out the same things about themselves.

“When we started out, the context of what we were dealing with, and that is a condensed NBA season, an earlier Olympics and four guys who have been in The Finals, and then we have to go through a selection process and a lot of injuries,” Krzyzewski said, “what we wanted to do is get to a point in the last week of the Olympics where we were healthy, together and we knew who we were. And we’re there. We could played much better in a game [Saturday] and also, we couldn’t have played any better than we did the game before. So where we’re at today is where we had hoped we would be, because we’re in complete health, in complete agreement and completely focused on this, knowing that we have four tough games ahead of us now, starting with this last pool game against Argentina.”

Krzyzewski loves to talk about his team’s spirit and camaraderie, the fact that they are unselfish (“almost to a fault”) and have the utmost respect for their competition.

But until Saturday, they really hadn’t been tested. No one was sure how they would respond in a tight game, how they would act with the outcome in doubt and needing someone to step up at crunch time.

They answered those questions in the closing minutes against Lithuania. They might very well have to do it again against Argentina.

“We’re ready for the final week and our guys are anxious,” Krzyzewski added. “I think they’ll play their best basketball this week.”

So will everyone else.

“That’s the way you want it when you’re fighting for a gold medal,” Harden said. “These other teams came here for the same thing. And you have to know they’re going to go after it the same way we will. It’s all or nothing now.”

35 Comments

  1. RP says:

    You all US haters rwill commit suicide when USA win.

  2. ltu fan says:

    spain should be thrown away from olimpics as all the athletes were as they have lost INTENTIONALLY to brazil. shame to spains basketball federation by trying to avoid team usa in the semis!!! who agrees with me?>

  3. ais says:

    basketball is more of a team game in Olympic amateur RULES, individual talent is good wise in pro league that’s why most of the teams who beat USA before were more of a team based players with a few NBA stars. every minute counts on international rule ope it could bring out the best of USA in every games.

  4. manny says:

    USA deffence is not better than russia, argentina, spain brazil. Lithuania score 94 points on USA but the most they had scored prior to team usa was 79 that came in a loss againt Argentina (Argentina 102 – 79 lithuania ) and ( france 82-74 lithuania)
    lithuania beat Nigeria and tunisia scored an average of 74 points per game. Nigeria scorde 73 point on the game against USA but they scored
    Nigeria 60-56 Tunisia
    Nigeia 53- 72 Lithuania
    Nigeria 79- 93 Argentina
    Teams are scoring well against team USA is that because USA play at a fast pace or is there something wrong with the Team USA diffence .

  5. WTTTTFFFFFF Sekou?? why u aint post my comments???? Seriously bro dont be hating on a brother like dat sekou..
    @TRUTH LMFAOOO SON U LOST UR MIND. YOOOOO ARRRGGGEEENNTTTIIIINAA WILL GET SMASH BY TEAM USA TODAY.
    all yo USA haters will cry like a lil baby……
    GOOOOO TEAM USA!
    GAAAAAH!

  6. Phil Titan says:

    Can anyone render an educated guess on how well Argentina & Lithunia would fare if those teams played in the NBA? Would they be the champions? Would they even make the Playoffs? If so, as what kind of a seed?

  7. B-Ball4Life says:

    Let´s be honest, nobody beats the U.S. Team. They have to hit nothing while in this case Argentina has to play the perfect game. So keep on dreamin´ haters and I am not an american. 110-80 blow out victory for USA. They have to prove somethin´

  8. jack says:

    ARGENTINA GONNA LOSE LEBRON LEADING SCORER

  9. lebron forever says:

    your stupid there is barely a chance these teams will touch usa nobody in olympics is even close to as good as kobe lebron durant or paul team usa’s worst player is likely better than most country’s best players

  10. nbafan says:

    oh yeah thats the teams we already beat

  11. Paul Reynaldo says:

    come on, you dont need to do research when you are watchin on the way they play this last few games, they are just hopin that their opponets will gonna miss shots so they can run their offense. Interior D? no prob push the opponent out of the paint, then if their outside the paint then, there is the problem! they cant carry their awards when they are playing the game they must prove it as for now, perimeter D is their problem

  12. Walt says:

    Lithuania was on fire and hit most of the well-contested shots they made. The ball was going in. And, yes, defending pick-and-rolls was an issue but Lithuania had a FG% during 2 quarters that they would hardly replicate in practice, let alone against this USA team.

  13. Crumble says:

    I believe it will come down to which team is able to expoit the other team’s weaknesses and impose their style of play.
    Team USA can’t really be beaten in an uptempo game… they are just too explosive and excellent finishers on all positions.
    The US have obviously better individual players and tremendous scorers, but the Argentine rotation has been playing together (in the most part) for around 5-10 years and are hence imho the more cohesive unit with a slight advantage in overall team finesse.
    Bottom line: Argentina can only win if every single player remains focused, makes his open shots and they play smart as a team.
    If the US manage to get into their fastbreaks early and often and get Scola, Ginobili or Prigioni in foul trouble, this may also turn into a blowout. Argentina played below their abilities against France, and the US had their trouble against Lithuania. ARG shouldnt get too excited, and USA shouldnt underestimate them like in ’04.
    Still i believe this might be the most interesting game of group A. (Where did i put my video recorder?)

  14. guess who says:

    what the heck are you talkin about? chris( you mean mullin i suppose) and magic were nothing but a defensive liability& were counting on their so called smarts on that end of the floor,besides perimeter D is not an issue- lebron,iggy,westbrook,paul,kobe and deron will get the job done,only problem is interior d and inconsistent rebounding effort due to lack of size,and as many guys(bron f.e.) mentioned, problems with communication on the court.

  15. Paul Reynaldo says:

    main problem of team U.S too many high flying guards on the line up and still no tough defensive guard or forward that can defend the guards of the opposing team.
    But still U.S can win the gold, although, next time they choose players they should include players who can play tenacious defense guys like scottie, john, chris and of course magic and mike. ’92 DREAM TEAM still is uncomparable

    • Aussie says:

      What about Lebron and Iguodala? Both are forwards and both are great defenders… What about Kobe? 9 time all defensive first team, 3 time all defensive second team (including this year), What about Chris Paul, (2012 all-defensive first team).

      Do some research…

  16. Willy says:

    Is it too early for the First All Olympic Team Sekou? Tony Parker, Paddy Mills, Manu of course and any other Spurs will do! Durant and Melodramatic at the post will do! Go Spurs. !

  17. Norma says:

    Argentina and other teams have a solid chance to send USA back home without gold.

    Biggest weakness for the USA is Mike Krzyzewski.

    Put any of the top 10 coaches in NBA and USA would with these players beat any team on the Olympics by a 20+ point margin.

    • Ted says:

      You seem to have little knowledge about the NBA. They already have Nate Mcmillan and Mike D’antoni. Those 2 guys, even though has no job in the NBA right now, are respectable coaches. Plus, Krzyzewski has already proven that he can win(Gold in 08 Olympics and 10 FIBA), so why change the system if it aint broke?

      • Norma says:

        What are you talking about??

        Mcmilan and Dantony are defenetly not in top 10 coaches in the NBA. Not even top 15. In fact they were both fired.

        Krzyzewski is a bad coach for this team and scoring margin against teams like Lithuania reveals it. Yes he won gold but so would my grandma as a coach when you have the best players in the world in your team, you need zero coaching to win it.

        Even the players admit that the euro-teams are “well coached”, that speaks a lot about Krzyzewski :)

  18. nba says:

    warm-up?!

  19. THE TRUTH says:

    Lithuania EXPOSED Team USA’s weaknesses.

    1) Cannot defend pick and roll

    2) Cannot handle size inside

    It will be funny once Argentina, Brazil, Spain, or Russia beats them. Everybody will come onto this website to make excuses.

    • Leo says:

      USA Hater….

    • FettaFetta says:

      Woooooooooooooow seriously dude? This team is too good to lose!

    • lbj says:

      very well said the truth. To good to be true! whereas argentina and france just win a big margin with lithuana. kirilenko will crash all americans to the finals. 1st Russia 2nd Argentina 3rd Spain 4th France 5th Brazil 6th USA nightmare team.

      • DJ says:

        wow maybe you should wait until such things actual happen before you say things like that! I’m sure you said the same thing about the last US Olympic team yet they one the gold! USA in 6th? Really? Will you feel silly when your prediction isn’t even close?

      • lbj says:

        why you didn’t address that argentina and france win a big margin while usa too nervous to be beaten again by lithuanians

      • lbj says:

        why you didn’t address that argentina and france win a big margin while usa too nervous to be beaten again by lithuanians..

      • lets says:

        in your dreams

    • lbj says:

      very well said the truth. To good to be true! whereas argentina and france just win a big margin with lithuana. kirilenko will crash all americans to the finals. 1st Russia 2nd Argentina 3rd Spain 4th France 5th Brazil 6th USA nightmare team..

    • hey the truth…the truth is you´re insane!USA will not lose a single game man,get real!USA wins gold undefeated 8-0!

  20. mr person says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! USA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Bill says:

    “and ended the U.S. gold medal big two years later in the Olympics in Athens, disposing of a team LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony played on in the semifinals on their way to gold.”
    That would more accurately be a team that LeBron and Carmelo did not play (DNP) on, not to mention their buddy D Wade. When it comes to coaching Team USA, Larry Brown was as bad as Coach K is good.

  22. KJAMES says:

    balance yup thats wat bron meant..shooting 3s whilst driving to the basket…and the score wont be these close….but usa for gold 99.9%