China is definitely not a basketball powerhouse, even when compared to the other teams competing, and this was evident in their exhibition against the U.S. in July when they were obliterated by a score of 107-57. They have yet to win any medals in nine appearances at the Olympics. They've dominated other Asian teams in FIBA play, but that won’t help them when they face off against a field without any other teams from Asia in Rio. China finished 12th in last year’s games and has never finished higher than 8th. It doesn’t look like they've recovered from the loss of Yao Ming, and their current lineup just isn’t going to be on the same level as their competitors in terms of talent.
USA, on the other hand, has everything going in the right direction as they head to Rio in search of another gold medal. The U.S. has taken gold in 14 of its 17 Olympics appearances, including 2008 and 2012 most recently. They are ranked first in the FIBA rankings, and have a team comprised of top-notch NBA players. The U.S. has not suffered defeat since 2006 in a loss to Greece in the FIBA World Championship semi-finals, a stretch of dominance unmatched by any other nation. Ever since the disaster that was the 2004 Olympics in which they won just a bronze medal in the wake of three losses, the U.S. has been untouchable on the basketball court.
China looked completely inept in their exhibition game against the U.S. and that probably won’t have changed by Saturday night. They lack the size, athleticism, depth, and scoring to keep up with this fast-paced, high-scoring American squad. Though China probably won’t fare well in Rio, this could be their most embarrassing loss.
On the other hand, the U.S. team simply needs to take care of business here. They don’t have to beat China by 50 again, but they probably will anyway. Stars like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, DeMar DeRozan, and DeMarcus Cousins will lead the way while other ballers like Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan will provide even more depth. The U.S. needs to make a statement and play the right way now that the exhibition games are over, and I would expect them to do just that in their first game against China.
- Sports.net’s top tip: China has no chance here. USA wins by 45.
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