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Basketball

Basketball at Tokyo Olympics: Preview, Teams, Key players, Schedule

This year we will have one of the most exciting competitions in a long time with teams packed with high-level talent.

Team USAs Basketball Team
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Team USA Will Be Expected To Return With The Gold Yet Again (Source: NBA)

By

Ananth Narasimman

Updated: 2021-07-21T15:33:59+05:30

Ever since its inclusion as a medal sport in 1936, Basketball at the Olympics has managed to provide us moments that have left us in awe while featuring the best athletes in the world. We have had the privilege of witnessing legends such as Michael Jordan, Arvydas Sabonis, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James grace the hardwood and put it all on the line for their country and fans.

The effect of the 1992 Dream Team helped globalize the sport as many young stars at that point from different countries such as Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol, who in turn have inspired the next generation of international superstars such as Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons.

The rise of the game at the international level has levelled the playing field and increased the competition. The United States is not guaranteed a medal anymore despite an abundance of talent, most national teams have at least one player plying their trade in the National Basketball Association hence removing the advantage of superior talent.

This year, if things go according to plan, we will have one of the most exciting competitions at the Olympics in a long time with teams packed with high-level talent. Here is everything you need to know about the format of the competition and the teams involved in Tokyo Olympics.

Guide

The tournament is set to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, among 12 teams which are divided into 3 groups of 4. The winners and runner ups of each group would automatically qualify for the quarterfinals along with the two best third-place teams.

Perennial favourites, Team USA are expected to come back home with yet another gold but face stiff competition. Here is a guide along with the groups, team-wise fixtures and key players to watch.

Groups

Group A- Iran (IRI) France (FRA) USA (USA) Czech Republic (CZE)

Group B- Australia (AUS) Germany (GER) Italy (ITA) Nigeria (NGR)

Group C- Argentina (ARG) Japan (JPN) Spain (ESP) Slovenia (SLO)

Teams To Watch Out For


United States of America

Fixtures

July 25 - USA Men vs France - 5:30 am

July 28- USA Men vs Iran - 10:10 pm

July 31- USA Men vs the Czech Republic- 5:30 am

August 3- Quarterfinals- Time TBA

August 5- Semi-Finals- Time TBA

August 6- Gold Medal Game- Time TBA

August 7- Bronze Medal Game- Time TBA

Roster

Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, JaVale McGee, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum.

Players to watch out for

Kevin Durant

The former MVP finally has the chance to be the most medalled and successful US Basketball player at the international stage with four Golds. KD being the veteran and the de facto leader of the team has huge responsibilities on his shoulders, but, knowing the Slim Reaper, he has the poise to handle the pressure and make shots when his team needs him the most.

Draymond Green

Draymond will have to take up the role of the defensive anchor and stopper of the team. The former Defensive Player of The Year has to take up the mantle from defensive stalwarts such as the late great Kobe Bryant, Tayshaun Prince and LeBron James.

Prediction- Gold - Team USA faces the toughest competition it has had for a while but the talent level on the squad makes it seem highly likely that they will bag the gold yet again.

France

Fixtures

July 25 - France vs the USA - 5:30 am

July 28- France vs the Czech Republic- 10:10 pm

July 31- France vs Iran - 5:30 am

August 3- Quarterfinals- Time TBA

August 5- Semi-Finals- Time TBA

August 6- Gold Medal Game- Time TBA

August 7- Bronze Medal Game- Time TBA

Roster

Andrew Albicy, Nicolas Batum, Petr Cornelie, Nando de Colo, Moustapha Fall, Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert, Thomas Heurtel, Timothé Luwawu Kongbo, Frank Ntilikina, Vincent Poirier , and Guerschon Yabusele.

France National Basketball Team (Source:FIBA)

Players To Watch Out For

Rudy Gobert

The three-time Defensive Player of The Year from the Utah Jazz has proved his mettle and showed us how valuable a reliable defensive anchor can be in a playoff run. Gobert now has to lead his team to the promised land, his defensive versatility makes France a tough contender to beat and a dark horse to win Gold.

Nicolas Batum

Coming off a successful season for the Los Angeles Clippers, Nicolas Batum is placed in a perfect situation to lead the line along with Gobert, Fournier and Ntilikana.

Prediction- Bronze- Despite the talent level present in the squad, France is expected to claim the bronze as they lack the chemistry and talent other elite squads such as Spain, Australia and the USA have.

Australia

Fixtures

July 25 - Australia vs Nigeria - 5:30 am

July 28- Australia vs Italy- 10:10 pm

July 31- Australia vs Germany - 5:30 am

August 3- Quarterfinals- Time TBA

August 5- Semi-Finals- Time TBA

August 6- Gold Medal Game- Time TBA

August 7- Bronze Medal Game- Time TBA

Roster

Chris Goulding, Patty Mills, Joshua Benjamin Green, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova, Nathan Sobey, Matisse Thybulle, Dante Exum, Aaron Baynes, Jock Landale, Duop Thomas Reath, Nic Kay.

Players To Watch Out For

Patty Mills

The San Antonio Spurs veteran leads the line for the Boomers, whose star player Ben Simmons decided to opt-out. Patty Mills is a microwave guard and can get on a hot streak at the snap of a finger, and Australia would surely need big games from him to see them through.

Matisse Thybulle

An underrated defensive cog for both the national team and the 76ers, Thybulle will be given the assignment of guarding some of the world's best such as Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic. His defensive assignment and his ability to be the defensive stopper will go a long way in deciding the fate of the Boomers.

Prediction- Silver- Australia has the best chance to cause an upset by beating the number one ranked team USA.

Spain

Fixtures

July 25 - Spain vs Japan - 5:30 am

July 28- Spain vs Argentina- 10:10 pm

July 31- Spain vs Slovenia - 5:30 am

August 3- Quarterfinals- Time TBA

August 5- Semi-Finals- Time TBA

August 6- Gold Medal Game- Time TBA

August 7- Bronze Medal Game- Time TBA

Roster

Alberto Abalde, Alex Abrines, Carlos Alocen, Dario Brizuela, Victor Claver, Rudy Fernandez, Usman Garuba, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Willy Hernangomez, Sergio Llull, Xabi Lopez-Arostegui, Pierre Oriola, Sergio Rodriguez, Ricky Rubio.

Players To Watch Out For

Ricky Rubio

The ultimate orchestrator Ricky Rubio will have to be on his game to help his country exceed expectations. Having a much older squad provides you with the experience but takes away some of the athleticism young teams provide, hence Rubio needs to pick his spots while being aggressive and finding open teammates.

Marc Gasol

Coming off a disappointing season for the Los Angeles Lakers, Marc Gasol can focus his complete attention toward the national team for one last time. This will be a special occasion for the former DPOY and his older brother Pau, with both wanting to go out on a high.

Prediction- 4 - Spain is not expected to finish on the podium for the first time in a decade due to their relatively old squad.

Nigeria

Fixtures

July 25 - Nigeria vs Australia - 5:30 am

July 28- Nigeria vs Germany- 10:10 pm

July 31- Nigeria vs Italy - 5:30 am

August 3- Quarterfinals- Time TBA

August 5- Semi-Finals- Time TBA

August 6- Gold Medal Game- Time TBA

August 7- Bronze Medal Game- Time TBA

Roster

Precious Achiuwa, Kezie Okpala, Miye Oni, Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Chimezie Metu, Ike Iroegbu, Michael Gbinije, Obi Emegano, Caleb Agada, Stanley Okoye, Ekpe Udoh, Chima Moneke, Jahlil Okafor, Gabe Vincent.

Players To Watch Out For

Precious Achiuwa

The Miami Heat star is the most popular name in a Nigerian team filled with NBA calibre talent. The D'Tigers under the leadership of former NBA coach Mike Brown, is one of the surprise packages of the tournament, with impressive victories against Team USA and Argentina during the exhibition games. Achiuwa has shown capability of leading from the front with zeal and enthusiasm as portrayed by his block on KD.

Jahlil Okafor

The former number 3 pick in the NBA draft is expected to dominate in the paint and help his country stun crowds and cause massive upsets with their physically imposing style of play. Okafor will be leading the line on that front with his flurry of post moves.

Prediction - 5 - Nigeria is expected to finish fifth due to the high level of elite competition but is capable of exceeding expectations and causing stunning upsets.

Surprise Packages

Luka Doncic led Slovenia

Facundo Campazzo and Argentina


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