The Summer Olympic Games is about to start and I'll follow closely this event, especially the men's basketball competition. I've written an extended preview of all national teams in the competition for those who are looking for some information to make your bets or simply to have a guide to help them in watching the tournament. Feel free to comment or to ask something you want to know!
Men's Basketball Tournament Preview:
There isn't any doubt that barring a shock, the United States will be able to win the Gold Medal once again. In fact, most sportsbooks don't even offer odds for the US to get the Gold Medal (currently Pinnacle has them at -730 to win outright), but they have props instead asking for example if they will be able to win a game by more than 50 points or if they will trail in the 2nd half of any game during the competition. The confidence is so big in the US team that Kobe Bryant even said they could beat the 1992 Dream Team in a game.
The biggest strength of the US squad will definitely be their depth. We are talking about a competition where teams will play every game on a 1-day rest spot and the depth from the US team will punish their opponents, especially in the later stages of the competition, when the players have already a lot of minutes on their legs. Their offense is merely simple, with a few off ball movements and no low post up moves. At least, they aren't committing a lot of turnovers (in their four recent friendly games, they committed just 12, 11, 9 and 13 turnovers) and besides Kevin Durant, who is consistently great, they have been streaky from behind the line. However, it's on their defense that the US team really turns into the best team in the world by a huge margin, with their ability to create turnovers and convert those takeaways in fast break chances. In their first three friendly games, they forced their opponents to commit 27, 26 and 27 turnovers, while in their most recent friendly against Argentina, they forced just 13 turnovers. It will be in their ability to force turnovers and give them easy chances to score that the US team that will allow them to blowout their opponents on this competition. However, it has to be noted that Tyson Chandler is their only big men and the team's biggest problem is in defending pick n' rolls, as they have been using players in the frontcourt that are most used to play at the SF position (Kevin Durant & Carmelo Anthony) and they lack the defensive routines to defend this kind of play. This is why we watched Brazilian PG Marcelinho Huertas punish them with 13 assists, while the entire US team was only able to combine a total of 11 assists.
If there is a team who can eventually beat the US team, that team is clearly Spain. As of now, the line for their friendly game is at -11, by far the smallest line the US have had in their friendly games. The Spanish team is composed by a core of players and a coach who have been working together for many years now, so they know perfectly how to play with each other. However, they have suffered some injury problems, first with Ricky Rubio who will be out of this competition, then Rudy Fernandez was injured for a while and by watching some friendly games from Spain, I realize that he isn't at this best even though he looked better in the last games and finally, Marc Gasol hasn't played the team's last friendly games due to injury. Spain has a very good frontcourt with Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Felipe Reyes and it will be tough to score on the inside against them, especially with Ibaka's playing style fitting even better under FIBA rules. Despite this strength down low, Spain is a jump shooting team who will attempt more than 20 treys per game, with Navarro, Calderon, Rudy and Llull being their best shooters. The Spanish team values the ball possession and it's rare for them to commit a high number of turnovers, as seen in the last five friendly games, where they committed just 6, 5, 14, 8 and 8 turnovers. So, if Spain doesn't turn the ball over and hit their outside shots, then they may really have a real chance of upsetting the US. They are a great team down the stretch due to their experience and they will clearly tough as nails to be beaten, even in their games against the United States.
After these two teams, there are a group of good team that can be considered as outsiders. Just like the US team, however on a clearly different level, France has a good number of good wing players who can play on the perimeter or they are also big enough to play on the frontcourt: Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum and Kevin Seraphin. This turns the French team into a great rebounding team, but at the same time they are quite poor on the outside shooting. I remember watching their friendly game against Spain where they shot just 4-23 from the 3pts line, for example. Tony Parker is clearly the leader of this team and he is one of the best players in the world under FIBA rules because he knows how to attack the lane. One of the problems France has been dealing with is the fact that Parker was their only good guard, so he had to play over 40 minutes in almost every game. But now they have Nando de Colo to compliment him, just like it will happen in San Antonio next season. With Joakim Noah playing (he's out due to an ankle injury), France would have an even better frontcourt, but that wouldn't solve their biggest weakness: their perimeter game.
On the other hand, Argentina still has the same core of players from their Olympic title in 2004. This means that we are now talking about an old team with little depth. They can hang around against anybody, but to ask them to play their games with just 1 day off to rest and with Ginobili, Scola, Nocioni and Delfino playing more than 30 minutes per game is just too much. Argentina will definitely rely on their 3pts shooting and their outside shooting will define if they will succeed or fail on this tournament.
Russia is a complete outsider on this tournament. They needed to play in the preliminary tournament to qualify for the Olympics, but they did it with distinction by winning all their games. They are one of the best passing teams in the competition and Andrei Kirilenko is their best player and the true playmaker of the team, as he can certainly do it all for the team. Almost the whole roster plays in Russian clubs, so they will be an enigmatic team for many. Therefore, a bronze medal isn't certainly out of question, but neither is an early elimination, as nobody knows how good they really are.
Brazil is another dark horse to win the bronze medal and they have already put a scare on the US team in a recent friendly game between these two teams. Marcelino Huertas is a true playmaker and his passing ability is perfect to feed a good big men unit formed by Nene Hilario, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao. They will definitely run hundreds of pick and roll plays during the tournament and they have two perimeter guys who are never afraid to shoot in Leandro Barbosa and Alex Garcia. However, they lack depth and besides Huertas, the remaining Brazilian players have problems in taking care of the ball.
Lithuania is another team who is coming from the preliminary tournament and after a shocking early loss in the group stage against Nigeria, they bounced back and eventually won all their remaining games. They are a young team who is vastly inconsistent, especially now that one of their leaders, the center Robertas Javtokas, got injured and won't play the Olympics. The Lithuanian team plays on a fast paced style and Jonas Valanciunas, who will play in Toronto next season, can become a big piece for this team if he's able to control himself and stay out of foul trouble. They have depth on their roster, but they lack star power with Linus Kleiza, Rimantas Kaukenas and Mantas Kalnietis being good role players, but far from being top players.
Australia is probably the best team in the competition from the group of teams who don't really have any real good player. The reason for that is that they are extremely well coached by Brett Brown, who is not only the Australian national head coach, but also an assistant coach of Gregg Popovich in the San Antonio Spurs. Australia plays very smart basketball in both ends of the floor, with Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and David Andersen being their best players. They won't overpower any top team, but they will hang around in the games due to their well organized basketball. Just ask Spain, who had to fight a lot to finally be able to defeat the Australian squad in the two friendly games they played against each other.
Great Britain is playing the competition due to being the host of the Olympics, however it's more than clear that they would never qualify for the Olympics if they had to, as they lack quality to play at this level. They tried to bring NBA players to their roster like Ben Gordon or Byron Mullens to play alongside Luol Deng, but they ended up refusing the offer. The British team is a jump shooting one who buries trey after trey. They lost by 40 points against the US on a friendly game, in a game where GB actually had a great night on the outside shooting with 12-23 3pts! However, the lack of guards and post players will prevent them to go anywhere on this tournament.
China will be using an experienced squad which is basically the same team that reached the Quarter Finals in Beijing four years ago. Their problem is that the player that is missing from Beijing is Yao Ming and without him, China is definitely a much weaker team than they were when Yao Ming was still playing. They are an undersized team, with no superstars, but don't underestimate them, as in the last World Championships, already without Yao Ming, they fought a lot and gave Russia, Greece, Puerto Rico and Lithuania some scares.
The last two teams who will be playing this competition will be two teams from Africa: Tunisia and Nigeria. Tunisia is the African champion, after beating Angola in the final of the 2011 African Championship. Even though Nigeria was 3rd in the African Championships, it's clear to me that Nigeria is now the best team coming from Africa, after having recruited some players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu for their squad. Nigeria qualified for the Olympics after being 3rd in the preliminary competition and their mega upset win over Greece in that tournament shows that they are a dangerous team thanks to a great rebounding effort and a terrific work rate. On the other hand, Tunisia is clearly the weakest team in the competition and I don't expect nothing from them besides getting blown out in every game they play.
Therefore, I expect an Olympic tournament full of exciting games, as barring the United States and Spain, who seem too good for the remaining teams, and Tunisia, who seems to be the worst team in the bunch by far, there are a lot of teams who can play good basketball and make this competition one of the most exciting of these Olympics.
Andre Gomes: Best Bets | Free Picks | BlogsBeyond the same-old-handicapping
Betting wise, the Olympic Games start for me today and we have already a DD Play on soccer, as we have tremendous value on a game! Note: I will use this thread for every sport I bet on during the Olympics, not just basket!
Olympic Games - Men's Soccer - Group B - Gabon vs Switzerland
***DOUBLE DIME PLAY***
The Swiss youth teams have been excellent in the last few years, as it could be seen in the last Under-21 European Championships last year, where they were runner ups to Spain. Their roster is formed by a group of very talented youngsters, already playing some major minutes in the most competitive leagues in Europe such as the German and Italian leagues, while others are already key pieces in some of the best Swiss teams. They will be missing Xherdan Shaqri and Granit Xhaka in this competition and this removes a lot of creativity to the team, but I don't think this will be a major problem against the completely inexperienced Gabonese team.
Gabon is very surprisingly on this competition after winning the African qualifying event. However, we are talking about a team who has never played a major competition before and whose most of their players still play in the Gabonese league, whose competitive level is ridiculous in comparison to the competition the Swiss players experience in Europe. This difference of experience and competitive level between Switzerland and Gabon will surely help the Swiss team in having huge edges in terms of tactical discipline, defensive focus and even physical condition, especially in the last 20 minutes of the game.
I believe Gabon will heavily struggle today on their debut match on their first International competition ever, while the much more experienced Switzerland squad will take advantage of the silly errors Gabon will eventually commit to comfortably win this match. Therefore, I'll take the Swiss team to win today.
Pick: 4 units (Double Dime Play) on Switzerland ML @ -140 / 1.71 on Betonline
Boa sorte, Andre!
BOL Andre! I'm going to ride with you on the swiss pick. How does the under look in this game in your opinion?
lstee_04BOL Andre! I'm going to ride with you on the swiss pick. How does the under look in this game in your opinion?
yeah I made the pick at -140, I stayed away from the under as well for similar reasons. Really enjoyed reading your write up though and wish ya the best on your plays.
what a disappointment. Didn't think they'd get shut out after that early goal.
yeah, it was a disappointment but at the same time it was kind of hard to root against the underdog for me even tho my money was on the swiss.. It really just looked to me like the swiss underestimated Gabon. At times it looked like they were just tryin to do too much with the ball.. Oh well thats how it goes.