Welcome to the London Olympics, where the only thing to care about — so far as we’re concerned — is the basketball. Before the first men’s game begins July 29 with Nigeria against Tunisia, let’s take a look at the teams trying to knock off the gold-medal favorite U.S. Can anyone do it? Hit the jump to see each nation’s video resume. The latest challengers: France and Nigeria.
Player you’re most likely to recognize: A be-goggled Tony Parker.
FIBA rank: 12
They’ll upset the Americans if: Though Parker is recovering from his nightclub injury and Joakim Noah is out with injury, there are six NBA players on this roster, and that’s better than any other team. The key lies in whether Nicolas Batum can refocus after a prolonged contract negotiation in free agency, and if Boris Diaw can play like he did in the playoffs — that is to say, play respectably against the U.S. bigs and keep a possession or two alive with boards.
Player you’re most likely to recognize: Ike Diogu.
FIBA rank: 21
They’ll upset the Americans if: They’ll have their shot early by playing in the Americans’ group, and that’s a good thing. This team is still humming along from its last-bid gasp at the qualifying tournament in Venezuela earlier this month. That was a nice tournament (they beat a deeply flawed Dominican Republic team to earn the bid) but these teams will beat Nigeria down, and any loss of confidence could kill any kind of a David vs. Goliath gameplan. Or maybe it makes them play harder with a nothing-to-lose attitude? As the wild card, Nigeria will be fun to watch whatever happens.
What do you think?
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