The Team USA Men's Basketball team look to continue their unbeaten run in the 2012 Olympics this afternoon when they face Nigeria at 5:15pm eastern time on NBC Sports Network. The US are overwhelming 42 point favorites in the game.
The Nigerians are the 21st ranked team in the world according to FIBA while the US is #1, but that doesn't even fully illustrate the gap between the two. The US has complied 852 points in the FIBA ranking system while Nigeria has just 67.6. The Americans are coming off a game against Tunisia in which they won by 47, yet failed to cover the spread. In fact, Tunisia even took the lead on 3 separate occasions.
In the end though, it was the most lopsided game of the tournament. USA coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked whether the fact that Tunisia was able even remain competitive for a quarter was a sign that his team could struggle with slow starts. The coach seemed to think the press was overthinking things a bit.
"Come on, it's 110-63," said Krzyzewski. "I mean, you can nitpick."
Kevin Durant scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards in the win as he continues to adapt to the team USA setup. At the 2012 FIBA World Championships, Durant was the star of that young team and took the load of scoring and leading on himself. However, in a squad with Kobe, Lebron, Carmelo etc... Coach K says the 23 year old Durant has to continue to assert himself.
"The main adjustment is to play with other alpha dogs," Krzyzewski said. "He was the guy for the '10 team, and everybody accepted him for that. Now he is with LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo, these guys push ... just so that he doesn't hold back. The guys have been great with him, they want him to score. To me, it says a lot about our guys when they're telling him, ‘Shoot it.' You hear LeBron say, ‘Shoot it,' every time. Kobe, kicking it out to him, ‘Shoot it.' Carmelo also does it. It's a good thing. And Kevin's capable of a 40-point game, which he has done. And we might need that from him to win a gold medal."
Durant says the only thing he's thinking about right now is the next game.
"I'm focused on whatever comes next for us," Durant said. "Nigeria is the only thing on my mind. One step at a time and getting gold. That's it."
As for NBA talent, Nigeria does have one guy, Al-Farouq Aminu of the Hornets. He averaged 6 points a game in the NBA last year, his rookie season.