Having analyzed group A of the Olympic basketball tournament in London, let’s take a look at what we can expect from group B.
Spain is, much like USA in group A, the overwhelming favorite to finish at the top of the group. The team is quite far ahead of any other opponent in the group, and the only realistic threat to beat team USA in later stages of the tournament. Spain did lose to USA in an exhibition by 22 points, but they did so without the help of Marc Gasol, who sat the game out. They have a very potent front-line in the Gasol brothers, and NBA’s best shot blocker in Serge Ibaka. Rudy Fernandez and Juan-Carlos Navarro are great offensive threats, while José Calderon of the Toronto Raptors will be at the point. The absence of the injured Ricky Rubio will certainly be felt, but Spain have more than enough talent to go undefeated in the group stage.
China is probably the weakest team of the group. Following the retirement of Yao Ming, the biggest star on China’s team is Jianlian Yi. Yi will most likely be the go-to guy offensively, but overall China stands little to no chance to survive past the group stage.
Russia are looking as the second best team in the group, at least on paper. Led by the experienced Andrey Kirilenko, Russia went undefeated as they qualified for the London Olympics in the qualification tournament in Venezuela. The team has been playing convincingly in exhibitions and should give Spain a decent challenge. Timofey Mozgov, of the Denver Nuggets, has shown improvement in recent years, and has looked very solid coming off the bench for Russia recently. Alexey Shved, who recently signed a contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, is a big 6″6 point-guard who attacks the basket relentlessly. Vitaliy Fridzon has shown a decent ability to score the basketball, and despite his poor free-throw shooting Alexander Kaun is a decent paint presence. Victor Khryapa is a long time veteran of the national team, but has struggled a little bit in the exhibition games.
Great Britain have home-court advantage, but it is hard to see them going through to the quarter finals. Joel Freeland will be joining the Portland Trail Blazers next season, but the only shining star of the team is Luol Deng. They could potentially steal a fourth spot in the group, but it would take extraordinary performances from Deng and his teammates.
Brazil have a front line of NBA talent in Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter. They also have a great scorer in Leandro Barbosa, as well as the quick point-guard Huertas. Brazil gave team USA some trouble with their size, and will surely do the same against their opponents in the Olympics. Brazil will most likely battle it out for the second place in the group with Russia.
Australia don’t have their biggest star in Andrew Bogut, who is injured, but are still a decent team, and they have played well in their exhibitions. Patrick Mills is a good point-guard, having NBA experience with the Portland Trail Blazers and signed with the Spurs last season. He averaged 10.3 points and 2.4 assists in only 16 minutes per game last season, and re-signed with the Spurs this summer. David Andersen has NBA experience and has played in the biggest European clubs, and will most likely be starting at center. Joe Ingles is another known player who currently plays for the European haevyweight Barcelona Regal, while captain Matt Nielsen has a lot of experience in various European clubs. Australia could very well cause some upsets in group B.