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Olympics 2012: Men's Basketball Quarterfinals Preview

Aaron Fischman |
August 8, 2012 | 3:55 a.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor

Courtesy of Dawn Megli-Thuna, Neon Tommy
Courtesy of Dawn Megli-Thuna, Neon Tommy
China, Great Britain, Nigeria and Tunisia, it’s been real, but it’s time for the remaining eight teams to be whittled down to four. Wednesday’s Olympic Games will feature four quarterfinal basketball matchups, including Russia vs. Lithuania, France vs. Spain, Brazil vs. Argentina and the United States vs. Australia.

Russia

Group play record: 4 wins, 1 loss.

Best win: The Russians held off the feisty Brazilians’ comeback attempt. Russia won 75-74 thanks to Mozgov and Shved, who uncharacteristically combined for 35 points.  

Weakest performance: Russia didn’t really have any weak performances, but it did surrender a game-winning three-pointer to Australia’s Patty Mills in the final game of group play.

Statistical leaders: Kirilenko – 18.2 ppg, Shved - 12.0 ppg; Khryapa/Kirilenko – 6.2 rpg; Shved – 5.4 apg.

For the water cooler: Each of Russia’s last three games has been determined by three points or fewer.

Lithuania

Group play record: 2 wins, 3 losses.

Best win: Lithuania’s two wins came against two of the three worst teams in the tournament (Nigeria and Tunisia) so its best win had to be the moral victory against the U.S., in which Lithuania only lost by five points. Yes, this writer believes in moral victories.

Weakest performance: In its first game of group play, Lithuania had no defensive answer for Argentina’s Luis Scola. The 6’9 forward scored 32 points on 12-19 shooting.

Statistical leaders: Kleiza – 15.8 ppg, Songaila – 10.2 ppg; Kleiza – 6.2 rpg; Jasikevicius – 5.8 apg. 

For the water cooler: Normally known for his sweet stroke, Linas Kleiza has made just three of 15 three-point attempts through five games in London. 

Russia vs. Lithuania

My ridiculously specific prediction: 88-72, and the Russians are smiling.

France

Group play record: 4 wins, 1 loss.

Best win: The French defeated Argentina 71-64. France started and finished strong, outscoring the Argentines by 12 points in the first and fourth quarter combined.

Weakest performance: Against the Americans, France was down one point after the initial period. The U.S., however, began flexing its muscles with a 30-point second quarter, and it was all over from that point forward. 

Statistical leaders: Batum – 16.8 ppg, Parker – 15.8 ppg; Batum – 5.8 rpg; Diaw – 4.2 apg.

For the water cooler: Batum has converted more than 86 percent of his two-point shots (19-22). 

Pau Gasol and his brother face a stiff opponent in France. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Pau Gasol and his brother face a stiff opponent in France. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Spain

Group play record: 3 wins, 2 losses.

Best win: Defeated Australia 82-70. Mills was limited to 5-16 shooting, as the Gasol bros and Rudy Fernandez combined for 49 of Spain’s 82 points.

Weakest performance: Spain allowed Brazil to score 31 fourth-quarter points en route to an 88-82 come-from-behind victory.

Statistical leaders: P. Gasol – 20.6 ppg, M. Gasol – 11.8 ppg; P. Gasol – 6.0 rpg; Fernandez – 3.4 apg. 

For the water cooler: Excluding Spain’s win over Australia, Fernandez has scored 6.5 points per game. That’s it.   

France vs. Spain

My ridiculously specific prediction: Spain prevails in a nail-biter, 77-76.

Brazil

Group play record: 4 wins, 1 loss.

Best win: The largest country in South America found a way to beat a Spanish team that enjoyed 45 points scored by the Gasols. Brazil did a terrific job of defending Spain’s guards and only committed nine turnovers on the offensive end.

Weakest performance: Its only loss came in a one-point game against Russia, in which Brazil surrendered two three-pointers in the final 26 seconds.

Statistical leaders: Barbosa – 15.0 ppg, Splitter – 11.8 ppg; Varejao – 7.4 rpg; Huertas – 6.2 apg.

For the water cooler: According to the 2010 census, Brazil’s population is 4.75 times the size of Argentina’s…so there!

Ginobili and company desperately want to beat the Americans, but first they must get past Brazil. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Ginobili and company desperately want to beat the Americans, but first they must get past Brazil. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Argentina

Group play record: 3 wins, 2 losses.

Best win: In its Olympic opener, Argentina outscored Lithuania in every quarter en route to a 23-point victory. 

Weakest performance: The defense fell apart against the Americans in the third quarter, as Kevin Durant and his teammates had a field day beyond the arc.

Statistical leaders: Scola – 20.2 ppg, Ginobili – 20.0 ppg; Ginobili – 6.0 rpg; Prigioni – 6.0 apg. 

For the water cooler: Argentina is the only country with two players averaging at least 20 points per game and three players posting more than 15 per contest.

Brazil vs. Argentina

My ridiculously specific prediction: 86-82, Argentina with the minor upset.

United States

Group play record: 5 wins, 0 losses.

Best win: In its final match of group play, the U.S. dominated Argentina in the third quarter, outscoring its opponent 42-17. Durant led the way with eight three-pointers and a total of 28 points.

Weakest performance: The Americans needed a strong finish to avoid losing to Lithuania. In the entire game, the U.S. only recorded 13 assists.

Statistical leaders: Durant – 18.6 ppg, Anthony – 17.4 ppg; Love – 6.4 rpg; Paul – 5.8 apg. 

For the water cooler: The Americans’ point-differential of +38.2 per game is easily the best in London. Brazil ranks second with +10.6.

Australia

Group play record: 3 wins, 2 losses.

Best win: Its most exciting win came against Russia (Mills nailed a buzzer-beating three), but Australia’s sound defeat of Great Britain was the Aussies’ most complete game. In the affair, Luol Deng was held to nine points, while Mills erupted for 39 points on 14-22 shooting. 

Weakest performance: Scoring 42 points through three quarters was not going to cut it against Spain.

Statistical leaders: Mills – 20.2 ppg, Ingles – 14.2 ppg; Andersen – 6.4 rpg; Dellavedova – 4.6 apg.

For the water cooler: After dropping its first two games, Australia brings a three-game winning streak into the quarterfinals. 

United States vs. Australia 
My ridiculously specific prediction: 109-83, the U.S. wins.
Read more of Neon Tommy's 2012 Olympic coverage here.
Aaron can be reached via email or Twitter.


 

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