After producing three lackluster defensive performances to end pool play, the U.S. men’s basketball team will have a lot more on the line Wednesday night when they play Argentina in the quarterfinal round.
Argentina finished fourth in balanced Pool B, with their loss to Croatia Monday both keeping rival Brazil out of the quarters but also meaning that they’ll have to take on a team that beat them by 36 in an exhibition back in July. The key word: exhibition, as none of Argentina’s most recognizable names (Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola) played more than 25 minutes in that loss. Those three vets will play a lot more Wednesday, as will a point guard in Facundo Campazzo who has the tools needed to give a U.S. team that has struggled to defend ball screens fits.
WATCH LIVE: U.S. vs. Argentina, men’s basketball quarterfinals — 5:45 p.m. Eastern
Campazzo went for 33 points and 11 assists in a double overtime win over Brazil, and he’s shown the ability to not only score but get others involved throughout Olympic play. How they defend Campazzo will be key for the U.S., and they’ll be doing this in what will amount to a road game given the number of boisterous fans who have made the trek to Rio from Argentina. But even with all that said, Mike Krzyzewski’s team will be expected to win and do so in impressive fashion.
If they have better ball and player movement offensively, and do a better job defensively, the U.S. should be on their way to the semis. But it won’t be easy.