Can Ibaka's high point production continue? Well, not if his arms are being grabbed.
All games are on
Team USA vs. Nigeria
Time: 4:15 PM CST
Nigeria made a remarkable run into this tournament, but they've laid an egg so far. They were pretty disappointing against Lithuania, who have been disappointing themselves, losing to France and Argentina by sizeable margins. That being said, the Nigerian team does have some bite in them. They play the transition game better than most teams in the tournament, and they have good rebounding skills. They get to the line a lot, and a calling card of the team has been good free throw shooting. Defensively, they're good at pressuring the ball and creating steals, but they don't defend the three too well. Their offense suffers from stagnation at times, as they run a lot of isolation, shoot way too many contested threes, and have no real distributor.
The problem is, Nigeria is exactly the wrong type of team to beat Team USA, because strategically, they're just Team USA lite. Everything I wrote above pretty much applies verbatim to Team USA's situation, so I can't really see the Nigerians having any sort of strategic advantage. Of course, Team USA has a point guard and Nigeria doesn't, which speaks volumes about which team is better.
The only real way I could see Nigeria winning this is if they use their post scoring, meaning Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu, to their full advantage. But, if having defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler patrolling the lane wasn't enough of an obstacle to that goal, then the total lack of distribution on the Nigerian team might be even more of an obstacle. They could hope for some good shooting by their guards, but considering their lack of size, they'll have to hit the long-range bombs from pretty far out there.
Spain vs. Great Britain
Time: 2 PM CST
If you think you know what I'm going to say, then hold the phone and your horses. Because Great Britain actually might have a shot at winning this game. They played Spain to within four in preliminaries, and Spain was playing at full post strength for that game. Granted, they didn't have Rudy Fernandez, and their bench saw significant time, but Team GB dug deep into their bench as well. A surprise contributor in that game for Great Britain was Mike Lenzly, a scoring PG who's been pretty quiet in this tournament so far.
But, if Great Britain is to pull off the upset, they'll need continued production from guys outside their big three. They tend to rely on Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu a whole lot for scoring, which won't really fly against a great interior defense like Spain's. They'll have to rely on the penetrating ability of their guards, hopefully sending the Gasols into foul trouble or hitting a couple of threes. They won't be able to rely on their rebounding to help them out, and Spain can usually make quick work of a deliberate attempt to slow down the pace of the game.
On Spain's side, they'll be looking for continued production from Ibaka, who's been a breakout scoring star in this tournament. They'll also hope that Juan Carlos Navarro can recover from a foot injury he suffered in Spain's opening contest, as he's one of their primary perimeter players. All things considered, Spain should get a relatively easy victory here.
Other Games: Lithuania vs. France, 3 AM CST. Australia vs. China, 5:15 AM CST. Argentina vs. Tunisia, 8:30 AM CST. Brazil vs. Russia, 10:45 AM CST.
What do you think of today's games? Let us know by posting a comment!