Saturday will mark the halfway point in the 2012 London Olympic games, as San Antonio Spurs international players Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo, Tiago Splitter, and Patty Mills all play in their fourth game of the Preliminary Round.
No Spurs players will have to face each other on Saturday as most of their teams have easy matchups, aside from Mills and Australia, who are on the bubble to advance by holding a slim lead in fourth place, as they face Great Britain.
Here’s a scouting report of each game involving Spurs players. Since we’re already three games into the prelim round, I’ve went ahead and put each teams points that they’ve accumulated along with their current place in each Group. Remember, wins are worth 2 points and losses are 1 one point. Only the top four teams from each group will advance to the next round.
3:00 AM CST: [Group A] France (2-1, 5 points, 3rd) vs. Tunisia (0-3, 3 points, 6th)
74.7 points per game (PPG) 62.7 PPG
40.7 rebounds per game (RPG) 34.3 RPG
13.3 assists per game (APG) 14 APG
29% 3-point percentage (3PT) 36% 3PT
Tony Parker: 18 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, 3.3 TO, 41% FG, 20% 3PT
Boris Diaw: 7 PPG, 6 RPG, 4 APG, 42% FG, 1.7 TO
Nando De Colo: 8.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2 APG, 1STL, 2.7 TO, 38% FG, 36% 3PT
Macram Ben Romdhane (15.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.3 AST), Marouan Kechrid (10.5 PPG), Mourad El Marbuk (9.7 PPG), Amine Rzig (9.3 PPG), Salah Mejri (8.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG)
You’ve got to think French head coach Vincent Colliet has taken notice of the quick starts Tunisia (the Tunes) has displayed in their last two games against both the United States and Argentina. Against Argentina, the Tunes actually ended the first quarter with a 14-point lead. France will have to be prepared for Tunisia from the get-go as Tunisia comes out with a ton of energy. The Tunes can get hot from 3-point range quickly and they have some athleticism, as they’re not afraid to jump off the floor and throw the ball down with a few dunks. Nicolas Batum will have an important assignment in defending Ben Romdhane who is Tunisia’s best player. France must also be aware of Mejri in the low post as he can block shots with his deceptive ability. The Tunes might hang for a bit for Parker and Co., but in the end France has just too much firepower for the Tunes to match with Parker, Batum, Diaw, De Colo, Mikael Gelebale, Ronny Turiaf, Kevin Seraphin, and Florence Pietrus.
Prediction: France wins by 30 points or more
10:45 AM CST: [Group B] Brazil (2-1, 5 points, 3rd) vs. China (0-3, 3 points, 6th)
72 PPG 65.3 PPG
36.3 RPG 30 RPG
13.3 APG 10.7 APG
20% 3PT 46% 3PT
Tiago Splitter: 12 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 APG, 50% FG, 60% FT, 1 TO
Shipeng Wang (12 PPG, 56% 3PT), Jianghua Chen (9 PPG, 3 APG)
The one guy Brazil will have to watch is the sharp-shooting Wang. He scored 21 points on seven made 3-pointers against Australia on Thursday. Yi Jianlian went out with a knee injury against Australia, so the expectation is that he won't play in the game. China doesn’t have a dominant point guard like Russia had in Aleksey Shved, so you can expect a better game from Marcelinho Huertas and his ability to get his teammates involved, like Splitter in particular. The Chinese rely heavily on their outside shooting, but Brazil is a really good defensive team in these Olympics, with a lot of talent both starting and on their bench. China may hang around for one half, but Brazil should otherwise prove to be the dominant team.
Prediction: Brazil wins by 24 points or more.
2:00 PM CST: [Group B] Australia (1-2, 4 points, 4th) vs. Great Britain (0-3, 3 points, 5th)
Aside from Australia blowing out China, Great Britain almost pulled an upset in a close loss to powerhouse Spain on Thursday.
Australia Great Britain
74 PPG 71.7 PPG
43.7 RPG 41.3 RPG
17 APG 10.3 APG
23% 3PT 29% 3PT
Patty Mills: 17 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2 APG, 37% FG, 23% 3PT, 1 TO
Luol Deng (21.3 PPg, 8 RPG, 5.7 APG), Joel Freeland (15.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG), Pops Mensah Bonsu (12.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG), Nate Reinking (8.3 PPG, 36% 3PT)
This is definitely the marquee game involving a Spurs affiliated player. Assuming Brazil defeats China, Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown and Australia would need this victory against Great Britain to lock up a seed for the next round, even if they lost their next game to Russia. If Mills and the Aussies fall to Great Britain, then they would have to pull the upset against Russia, while Great Britain would have an easier matchup with having to defeat China to attain that fourth position.
There’s a lot of great individual matchups in this game, Joe Ingles vs. Deng, Freeland vs. David Andersen, Mensah Bonsu vs. Aron Baynes, and even Mills will have his hands full with the “Gary Neal” like Reinking. In order for Australia to earn this win, they’ll have to push the tempo by getting easy buckets out in the open court like they did against China. They’re a great passing team, but sometimes they play too much one-on-one basketball, Mills in particular. It’s tough to predict a winner for this, as I think it’ll be close the entire way. Assuming Australia gets into the open court effectively, then they will be favored to win.
Prediction: Australia defeats Great Britain by 2 points or more
4:15 PM CST: Argentina (2-1, 5 points, 2nd) vs. Nigeria (1-2, 4 points, 5th)
As written above, Argentina ended up defeating Tunisia with a monster second half on Thursday, while Nigeria got themselves into the Olympic record books by losing by 83 points to the United States.
86 PPG 62 PPG
36.7 RPG 38.3 RPG
18.7 APG 9 APG
32% 3PT 16% 3PT
Manu Ginobili: 23.7 PPG, 7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 51% FG, 44% 3PT, 2.7 STL, 2 TO
Ike Diogu (17.3 PPG, 9 RPG), Al-Farouq Aminu (9.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG), Alade Aminu (9 PPG, 7 RPG)
Argentina starting point guard Pablo Prigioni did not play against Tunisia on Thursday due to kidney stones. Facundo Campazzo took over the helm and played well for Argentina. If Prigioni isn’t back against Nigeria, it wouldn’t seem to be a huge issue as Nigeria is going to have a tough time limiting Luis Scola, Ginobili, and Carlos Delfino, while also still trying to score themselves. Argentina just has to play their game and continue to attack and shoot a high-percentage from the outside to earn this win. I see Manu and Co. getting a big early lead, and rolling with it the rest of the way.
Prediction: Argentina wins by 24 points or more.
Prediction record thus far: 7-2