How the Bookies See it
- Winner: Spain 4/7, France 13/8 – Coral
- Half Time/Full Time: Spain/Spain 10/11, France/France 10/3, France/Spain 5/1, Spain/France 6/1 – Paddy Power
Though France was blown out in a 21-point loss to Australia in their first game, they responded with vengeance by winning their next three against China, Serbia, and Venezuela. They demolished China and Venezuela by a combined 68 points and narrowly walked away with a one-point victory over Serbia. Complete with five former NBA players, including NBA champions Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, the French team has the roster to compete with anyone, even if it doesn’t work out for them – a fact they quickly proved in their 100-97 loss to the USA. Hornets forward Nicolas Batum had 14 points against the Americans, and Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne put up 12 points and five rebounds. France is averaging 82 points per game, and they've shot over 50 percent from the field in three of their five appearances.
Spain didn’t experience the same kind of resurgence that France did, and their wins came during the softest portion of their schedule. Following consecutive losses to Croatia and Brazil, they beat Nigeria, Lithuania, and Serbia to finish the Preliminary Round with momentum. Spurs center Pau Gasol and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio lead the Spanish team, and Bulls forward Nikola Mitotic and Lakers point guard Jose Calderon provide additional depth. A narrow nine-point victory over a 1-4 Nigeria squad doesn’t bode well for Spain though, and they'll have to bring their best game if they hope to take down France on Wednesday.
France’s quick recovery and surprisingly close game with the Americans proves that they are poised to go deep into this tournament. Even though the bookmakers seem convinced that Spain are dead certain to clinch victory, the French have it in them to snatch it away. Not only do they have more offensive weapons than the Spanish, but they've performed much better in Rio. Spain also doesn’t have the defenders to lock down Nicolas Batum on the wing or Boris Diaw in the post. Their defense has not been exceptional in these Olympics, and you should expect that the French will take advantage of that.
Though Spain is 3-0 in their last three games, they haven’t faced an opponent as tough as France in the entire tournament so far, nor have they faced a team with so many current NBA players on its roster. They most likely will struggle to slow down the French offense and have troubles in the paint with Rudy Gobert and Lauvergne protecting the rim. The French will win this game if they win the rebounding battle and score in the post.
- Sports.net’s top tip: France has Spain overmatched at almost every position, and it’s very possible that this game shouldn’t be a difficult victory for them. Back the French to win, either outright or by 12.