Thursday, July 26, 2012

London Olympics Preview

The 2012 London Olympics start on Sunday the 29th until August 12.  Twelve teams will be divided by two groups of 6 and only 4 of them will advance to the quarter finals.

Group A : USA, France, Argentina, Lithuania, Tunisia & Nigeria.
Group B:  Spain, Brazil, Australia, China, Great Britain, Russia.

*I predict the ones in bold to advance to the quarter final stage.

Here's some information about all participant teams.


*Argentina obtained it's first and only gold medal in basketball during the 2004 Athens Olympics by defeating Italy 89-64.

Argentina hopes to get back to the elite level they were at during the 2004 Olympics, which they got the gold medal.  Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni are the only four members left from that squad, but they remain very effective.  Although they haven't confirm or deny it, many people think this is the last run for them, they are the best group of basketball players Argentina has ever seen, they are called  "The Golden Generation"


Juan Gutierrez
Martin Diario Leiva

Emanuel Ginobili
Pablo Prigioni
Carlos Delfino
Facundo Campazzo

Luis Scola
Andres Nocioni
Leonardo Gutierrez
Marcos Mata
Martin Diario Leiva
Federico Kammerichs
Pancho Jasen

Coach: Julio Lamas 

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Fabricio Oberto, Roman Gonzalez, Paolo Quinteros & Antonio Porta.

 *Fabricio Oberto played in the 2011 Fiba Americas Championships, but couldn't participate in the Olympics due to personal problems.

How they got here:  Argentina won the 2011 Fiba Americas played in Mar Del Plata, just in front of their own fans.  Argentina went 9-1 in the tourney, the clincher game was against Puerto Rico, Argentina won  81-79 and then moved on to face Brazil in the final game.  the Argentinians beat Brazil 80-75 &  Luis Scola was named most valuable player, he averaged 21 ppg and 6 rebounds per game.

*Argentina celebrating their 2011 Fiba Americas win.


 *Brazil's last tournament win was in the 2009 Fiba Americas Championships.

Brazil has been a very solid basketball team over the last decade. They won the Fiba Americas 2009 Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico and they also finished in second place in the 2011 Fiba Americas Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.  Brazil's main problem has been consistency, they have a lot of talented players, but they have rarely played together on the same team.   The Brazilians have everyone healthy this time around, minus  Rafael Hettsheimeir, they are looking to prove they deserve to win a medal.

 *Hettsheimer averaged 9 ppg and 4 rpg in the 2011 Fiba Americas, he won't be participating in the 2012 Olympics due to injury.

Consistency problems

2007 Fiba Americas Champiionships in Las Vegas.
Leandro Barbosa, Marcelo Huertas, Tiago Splitter & Nene represented their team, however, Anderson Varejao wasn't available.

2009 Fiba Americas Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Leandro Barbosa, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Marcelo Huertas were available,  Nene didn't participate. 

2010 World Championships in Turkey
Same situation as 2009, Leandro Barbosa, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Marcelo Huertas were available to play, Nene wasn't.

2011 Fiba Americas Championships in Marl Del Plata, Argentina.
Marcelo Huertas and Tiago Splitter got Brazil the Olympic clincher. Leandro Barbosa, Nene and Anderson Varejao sat out the tournament.


Caio Torres
Maybyner Nene

Leandro Barbosa
Alex Garcia
Marcelinho Huertas
Marcelo Machado
Raulzhinho Netto
Larry Taylor

Anderson Varejao
Tiago Splitter
Guillherme Giovanonni
Marcus Vieira

Coach: Ruben Magnano  (Coached Argentina in the 2004 Olympics)

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Everyone, this group of players haven't been in the Olympics.

How they got here:  Brazil got the second spot in the London Olympics by ending in second place  in the 2011 Fiba AmericasBrazil  finished with 8 wins and only  2 losses, their 83-76 win over the Dominican Republic in the semifinals clinched their Olympic spot.  Marcelo Machado scored 20 points and 5-8 from downtown in the victory.  This will be Brazil's first Olympic appearance in 16 years.

 *Most of the Brazilians got Mohawks as a result of clinching a spot in the 2012 Olympics.

United States

 *The 2008 "Redeem Team" brought back the gold for the Americans, they had an 8 year drought without any Olympic gold medals. Dwyane Wade and Lebron James lead them in scoring with 16 PPG each.

After losing their first game ever in the Olympics with NBA talent in a 92-73 loss to Puerto Rico in Athens 2004 and finishing with a bronze medal, the United States knew they had to changed their approach to a more serious one.  If they still had any doubts, Greece showed them enough was enough by beating them 101-95 in the 2006 World Championships in Japan and with that, the americans ended up with another bronze medal.

Starting in 2008, the United States brought their best players on every competition and they have gone undefeated since then.   They won the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the World Championships in Turkey 2010.

They are expected to win every single game and bring yet another gold medal to the states, it will be a huge disappointment if they fail to get anything but the gold.


Tyson Chandler
Anthony Davis

Kobe Bryant
Chris Paul
Deron Williams
Russell Westbrook
James Harden

Andre Iguodala
Kevin Love
Lebron James
Carmelo Anthony
Kevin Durant

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:   Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Redd, Carlos Boozer, Tayshaun Prince, Dwight Howard & Jason Kidd.

How they got here: By winning the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, the United States clinched a berth to play in the 2012 London Olympics.  Team USA brought their "B" squad that featured Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom and many others.

*Kevin Durant lead the United States in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey with 23 PPG and 8 rebounds.


Spain have been the kings of Europe basketball the last few years (Runner up in Eurobasket 2007 and winners of  Eurobasket 2009 and 2011 ) and also team USA biggest threat so far.

                         *Spain won Eurobasket 2009 in Poland. Pau Gasol averaged 19 PPG and 8 RPG.

*Spain won Eurobasket 2011 tournament in Lithuania. Juan Carlos Navarro (Middle) won the Most Valuable Player award. Navarro averaged 19 PPG and 3 APG.

Spain has done almost everything, the only thing they haven't done so far, it's getting a gold medal in the Olympics.  Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are the best front court in the world right now, Spain has the ability to play using their big men or use Juan Carlos Navarro from the perimeter, JCN is a living legend, one of the best Spaniards basketball players of all time.  If any team can beat team USA for just one day only, it's them. Spain came close to beating the United States in Beijing 2008, 118-107,  in perhaps the  best gold medal game in the history of the Olympics, can they win it this time?


Pau Gasol
Marc Gasol

Serge Ibaka
Felipe Reyes
Victor Claver

 Jose Calderon
Juan Carlos Navarro
Rudy Fernandez
Fernando San Emeterio
Sergio Rodriguez
Victor Sada
Sergio Llull

Coach: Sergio Scariolo

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Alex Mumbru, Carlos Jimenez, Ricky Rubio, Berni Rodriguez, Raul Lopez and Jorge Garbajosa.

*Ricky Rubio suffered a torn acl in March 2011 in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, he missed the last 2 months of the NBA season and will miss the Olympics as well. 


                                  *France is going to their first Olympics since 2000.

France is a team full of NBA experienced players, Tony Parker is their main player.  He took the team on his shoulders and made sure France wasn't going to miss another Olympic appearance.

This version of France will have Nicolas Batum, Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw, Kevin Seraphin and the latest French player to make it into the NBA, Nando De Colo.  However, one important player that won't be joining France in the Olympics will be center Joakim Noah, Noah injured his ankle during the Chicago Bulls first round loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs.  Mickael Pietrus, Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi  won't be available for team France, those three players have been in and out of lineups with injury problems.


Ronny Turiaf
Ali Traore

Nicolas Batum
Boris Diaw
Mickael Gelabale
Yakhouba Diawara
Kevin Seraphin
Florent Pietrus

Tony Parker
Yannick Bokolo
Fabien Causeur
Nando De Colo

Coach: Vincent Collet

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Did not qualified to Athens 2004.

How they got here:  France finished in second place in the Eurobasket 2011 tournament played in Lithuania. France only loss came to Spain in the final game 98-85.  France beat Russia 79-71 in the semifinal game to clinched a spot in the Olympics. Tony Parker averaged 22 PPG and 5 APG & Joakim Noah made his debut with team France and averaged 9 PPG and 8 RPG.


 Australia is a team that needs a lot of help in order to compete for a medal, they finished in 7th place in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and 10th in the Fiba World Championships in Turkey.  The only competitions they dominate are the FIBA Oceania Championships in which they've finished first in 2005,2007, and 2011 and in second place in 2009.


Aron Bayness
Aleks Maric

David Andersen
Joe Ingles
Matt Nielsen
Mark Worthington 
David Barlow

Adam Gibson
Matt Dellavedova
Peter Crawford
Patty Mills
Brad Newley

Coach:  Brett Brown

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Andrew Bogut, Chris Anstey, C.J Brutton, Shawn Redhage, Glen Saville.

*Andrew Bogut played in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, he won't play in London due to various injuries.

How they got here:  Australia won the 2011 Oceania Championships, they went undefeated. Patrick Mills  averaged 14 PPG & 3 APG.


China qualified for the Olympics yet again, however, their goals of winning a medal in the Olympics remain very far away.  China didn't win a medal when Yao Ming was there, now it will be even more difficult to win one without him.  China has some talented players like Yi Anlian and  Sun Yue.


Max Zhang
Zhizhi Wang

Fangyu Zhu
Shipeng Wang
Ding Jinhui
Zhou Peng
Jianlian Yi
Li Yi

Jianghua Chen
Aliun Guo
Wei Liu
Yue Sun

Coach: Bob Donewald Jr.

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Feng Du, Nan Li, Lei Wang,  Yao Ming & Qinpeng Zhang.

* This will be China's first Olympic appearance without Yao Ming in over 16 years, Yao played in his first Olympic games in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

How they got here: China went 9-0 in the 2011 FIBA  Asia Championships, Yi Anlian was their best scorer, he averaged  17 PPG.


Russia isn't a lock to win a gold medal. the silver can be a stretch, but they can absolutely win the Bronze Russia has multiple players that can score, four of them averaged double digits in scoring in the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament:  Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved,  Sasha Kaun and Vitaliy Fridzon . Russia always plays tough difficult defense on the opponents, very tough to score against them.


Timofey Mozgov
Sasha Kaun

Andrei Kirilenko
Semen Antonov
Sergey Karasev
Victor Khryapa
Sergei Monia
Anton Ponkrashov

Sasha Fridzon
Dmitriy Khvostov
Alexey Shved
Evgeny Voronov

Coach:   David Blatt

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Sergey Bykov,  J.R Holden, Victor Keyru, Nikita Morgunov, Zakhar Pashutin, Petr Samoylenko,  Alexei Savrasenko & Andrey Vorontsevich.

*J.R Holden retired from Basketball and won't be playing in the Olympics. Holden played with Russia in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

How they got here: After finishing a disappointing third place in the 2011 Lithuania Eurobasket Championship, Russia didn't get the spot to the London Olympics right away. However,  due to finishing third they were one of the teams invited to play at the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifiers in Venezuela.

Russia also finished in the top 3 in this tourney, but that was enough to get into London (Only 3 teams could get to London via the Olympic qualifiers)   Andrei Kirilenko had a fantastic tournament, he averaged 16 PPG, 8 RPG & 4 APG, Alexey Shved averaged 11 PPG and 5 APG.

Great Britain

The last time Great Britain went to the Olympics in a basketball competition was in 1948, if that isn't saying much, i don't know what will.  Great Britain depend on Luol Deng to do almost all the scoring for them, Joel Freeland helps on the inside more than the rest of their teammates, but they need more help, those two can't do it alone.  In last year's Eurobasket 2011, Deng averaged 24 PPG and Freeland contribute with 11 PPG, nobody else averaged double figure scoring.


Eric Boateng
Dan Clark

Luol Deng
Joel Freeland
Pops Mensah Bonsu
Kieron  Achara
Robert Archibald
Drew Sullivan

Andrew Lawrence

Mike Lenzly
Kyle Johnson
Nate Reinking

Coach:  Chris Finch

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:   Did not qualified to Athens 2004.

How they got here:   Great Britain finished in 13th place in last year's Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania, but they got an automatic berth to the Olympics since they will be taking place in London. 


* Sarunas Jasikevicius is the oldest member of the Lithuanian basketball team, this will be Jasikevicius 4th trip to the Olympics (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012)

Lithuania is always a threat to compete for a medal in any event they are in    Since 2010, Lithuania has finished in the top 5 on every tournament they have played. They finished in third place in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, 5th in last year's Eurobasket and first in the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela. 

The Lithuanians have also finished 4th in the last two Olympics (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008) and they feel they have the right mix of older (Songaila, Jasikevicius, Kaukenas)  and younger players (Valanciunas, Kalnietis, Kleiza & Pocius)  to get a spot into the elite level and finally get the medial they deserve.


Jonas Valanciunas
Robertas Javtokas

Darius Songaila
Martynas Pocius
Paulius Jankunas
Linas Kleiza
Jonas Malaciunas

Sarunas Jasikevicius
Rimantas Kaukenas
Mantas Kalnietis
Deividas Dulkys
Tomas Delinkaitis

Coach:  Kestutis Kemzura

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:  Simas Jasaitis, Darius Lavrinovic, Marius Prekevicius, Marijonas Petravicius, Mindaugas Lukauskis, Ksystof  Lavrinovic.

How they got here:   Lithuania finished 5th in last year's Eurobasket. However, they still had a chance to clinch in the 2012 FIBA Qualifying Tournament and they did exactly that by finishing 1st in the tournament.

Sarunas Jasikevicius  averaged 11 points and 5 assists during the FIBA qualifiers & rising star Jonas Valanciuns ended up averaging  8 points and 4 rebounds. 



Nigeria is a team that no one thought they could get into the Olympics, this is the first time they will be competing in an Olympics.  They play as a team, no egos involved and they proved it could work.  Nigeria has a lot of familiar names on their roster, Ike Diogu (played 5 years in the NBA), Tony Skinn (Starting point guard of the 2006 George Mason squad that reached the final four)  Al Farouq Aminu (Selected 8th in the 2010 NBA draft by The Los Angeles Clippers) 

Olumide Oyedeji
Ejike Ugboaja

Al-Farouq Aminu
Alade Aminu
Koko Archibong
Ike Diogu
Ekene Ibekwe
Derrick Obasohan
Richard Oruche

Tony Skinn
Champ Oguchi
Ade Dagunduro

Coach: Ayo Bakare

Gone from their last Olympic appearance:   Did not qualified to Athens 2004.

How they got here:  In a surprising and shocking turn of events, Nigeria clinched the third and  final spot to play in the London Olympics by defeating the Dominican Republic, 88-73, in the 2012 FIBA Qualifying Tournament played earlier this year in Caracas, Venezuela.  Ike Diogu was determined to get the win for Nigeria with 25 points and 10 rebounds.   This is the first time in Olympic history that  two African teams will be among the twelve teams playing in an Olympics.  Ike Diogu averaged 17 PPG and 11 RPG and Al Farouq Aminu had 13 PPG and 5 RPG. in the Tournament.


Tunisia was the first African team to qualify to the London Olympics (Nigeria was the other)   This will be Tunisia's first Olympic games in their team history, African basketball was dominated by Angola for more than 20 years, but Tunisia beat them during last year's Fiba Africa Championships 67-56  to the surprise of everyone.  


Salah Mejri

Macram Ben Romdhane
Mohamed Ghyaza
Mohammed Hadidane
Amine Maghrebi
Radhouane Silmane

Omar Abada
Lassaad Chouaya
Mourad El Mabrouk
Marouan Kechrid
Marouan Laghnej
Amine Rzig

Coach:  Adel Tlatli

Gone from their last Olympic   Did not qualified to Athens 2004.

How they got here:  Tunisia went 7-0 and ended up first in the 2011 Fiba Africa Championship.  Maroaun Kechrid averaged 11 PPG and Macram Ben Romdhane averaged 13 PPG & 6 RPG.

Credit: Real GM for the team rosters.

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