The 2016 Olympics kick off this week, and all eyes are on Rio as people from all over the world will be in Brazil to cheer on their country. One of the sports fans will flock to watch at the Olympics is the basketball tournament because it will be a rare chance for basketball fans to catch a glimpse of their favorite NBA players.
As expected, the United States’ team, which is made up of some of the biggest names in the NBA, is the favorite to win the Gold medal, but the team’s path to gold isn’t as easy as many think.
Here are some of the contenders at the Rio Olympics.
Spain, the second ranked team in the world is expected to give the U.S. a run for their money when they meet in the knockout round, but the Spaniards might not be able to contend with the Americans this year because they will be without their best player Marc Gasol, who is still recovering from an injury he suffered during the NBA season.
Serge Ibaka also won’t be playing for Spain this year, which means other teams in their group, like Croatia and Lithuania could upset them before the knockout round.
Like Spain, Croatia is also in Group B, but they aren’t getting a lot of respect because they aren’t expected to do much in Rio. However, the Croatian team has a lot of talented players, and they are capable of knocking out Spain or any other team in their group if they shoot well during the tournament.
With NBA players like Mario Hezonja, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Dario Saric, Croatia has players that can shoot and rebound, so it will be interesting to see if the other teams overlook them, which would be a very big mistake.
This is a team that has been working its way up the FIBA rankings and have a great chance to advance to the knockout round and even medal at the tournament.
Lithuania has a couple of big men that can help them control the glass against their opponents, and they have experienced some success at the Olympics, finishing no worse than 4 th from 1992 to 2008 before a disappointing 8th place finish in 2012. Look for this team to compete for a medal in Rio.
With Tony Parker advancing in age, this might be France’s last chance to win a medal with the San Antonio Spurs point guard on the team. When the country won the Silver medal in 2000, Parker was not on the team, and the team didn’t make the Olympics again until 2012, where they finished 8th .
The Good news for the French is the team has plenty of talented players like Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, and Rudy Gobert, so there is no reason why they can’t compete for a medal.
Despite some of the biggest names in the NBA opting to skip the Olympics this year, the American team is still the most talented of all the teams at the Olympics.
Team USA is loaded at the wing and in the middle, and breezed through the competition while preparing for the Olympics. Unless they have a game in which their shots don’t fall, they are presumed to be the favorites to win it all.