In case you missed it because you were watching Cowboys fans hammer Tony Romo and then loving him all in one game, Spain and France (led by San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker) played each other for the Eurobasket championship. Spain held off several French runs and the combo of Juan Carlos Navarro and the three-headed monster of Serge Ibaka and the Gasol brothers proved too much for the French.
Size was also a big problem (no pun intended) for the rest of Europe, as they failed to keep up with Spain, especially when Pau was 100% healthy. That led Chris Sheridan to wonder if Spain's size, along with Navarro's emergence, means Spain is ready to knock off Team USA in London.
Sheridan argues Spain has two things going for it that they didn't have in 2008 in Beijing, namely the development of Marc Gasol and addition of Serge Ibaka to their team.
"Marc is still not as polished of an offensive player as Pau, but he has another year of growth ahead of him in the NBA when the lockout is settled, and he’ll have the freedom to play more physically on defense against whoever is manning the middle for the Americans (Dwight Howard and ?????), more freedom to burn a foul or two and send Howard to the line now that he has Ibaka backing him up."
Sheridan concluded he still wouldn't bet on the Spainards to beat Team USA, but he certainly wouldn't say they have no chance.
Spain is a really good basketball team. The size they have inside is like the Lakers' front line of Pau, Bynum and Odom, only with less versatility and 6 fully functional knees. And yes, they have a guy in Navarro who is fearless and has a killer instinct. However, I'd say he's their only perimeter player that deserves much attention from Team USA. Their second best guard is Rudy Fernandez, who Portland didn't trust enough that they brought in Wes Matthews as an insurance policy for Brandon Roy's knees.
Still, that Spanish front line will cause the American fits. To Sheridan's point, there's not a ton of front line depth behind Howard. If we were going to imagine the Americans 12 man roster, I'd guess that the starting five would be Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron a Dwight Howard. Your second unit is probably Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Tyson Chandler. I say Chandler, because he was perfect for Team USA during the 2010 Worlds. And if you don't remember, Bosh played great in Beijing. He was perfect in that Coach K defense.
That leaves two spots and the Project Spurs' boss, Jeff Garcia and I discussed a couple of names that would be good for this team. They still need another big man and Carlos Boozer isn't that guy. Kevin Love anyone? He rebounds and can hit an outside shot. He could also easily play along side Howard or Chandler. Do you trust Amar'e enough to make him your last big? This team will have enough scorers as it is. I think by that same logic, you probably tell Blake Griffin to get ready for the 2014 World Championships. Maybe LaMarcus Aldridge is your last big. Hell, maybe you can convince Spurs' Tim Duncan that FIBA doesn't suck and get him to go for one last shot at the one accolade that has escaped him his entire career.
As for the last spot, Jeff and I agree that Stephen Curry would be the best fit. You need a gunner and a lights out shooter. It really comes down to Curry or Eric Gordon. Or James Anderson. Just kidding.