We’ve had a very positive preparation for the Olympics! Tomorrow we start competing! Let’s see if you like this video!youtube.com/watch?v=j1Q0H6…
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) July 28, 2012
The self-proclaimed “beast” of the London Olympics shared this 5-minute lovefest video with the world, and make no mistake — Spain is going into these Olympics supremely confident.
Pau’s brother Marc has a bruised shoulder that kept him out of the final friendly against Team USA. Juan Carlos Navarro, the team’s best guard, has plantar fasciitis and a bad back.
This is a team that is banged up, and as good as Serge Ibaka makes them, I like the Brazilians to beat Spain in pool play and finish atop Group B, which means they would avoid the Americans until the gold medal game. Brazil has the better point guard (Huertas>Calderon), and Brazil has a front line of Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter that can neutralize Spain’s bigs.
Furthermore, much to the chagrin of my Spanish followers, I have picked Argentina to defeat Spain in the bronze medal game. Why? In a word: Manu. He’ll be first-team all-Olympics if his ankle holds up, which it almost never seems to do in these tournaments (see 2002 Worlds, 2008 Olympics).
For more on my predictions, and the chances of Team USA losing, give a read to this epic Olympic preview that draws upon the lessons of the past to give everyone who may be overconfident back in the states reason to pause.