The United States looks poised to claim an unprecedented 14th gold medal in men’s basketball as it prepares to open the Summer Olympics in Rio this weekend as a heavy -1600 betting favorite at the sportsbooks.
The Americans are once again taking a star-laden squad to this year’s Olympic tournament, which kicks off with Saturday night’s China vs. USA matchup at Carioca Arena 1.
The newest member of the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant, is joined by Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, and the Toronto Raptors’ all-star backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
While this squad has had little time to prepare for the Olympic tourney, they appeared to be in mid-season form in pre-tournament action, posting four dominating wins over the past two weeks, including a lopsided 111-74 victory over 2004 gold medalists Argentina. They also routed China by an average margin of 49.5 points in a pair of wins.
Argentina’s 2004 Olympic triumph marks the only time the United States failed to win gold since the nation started sending Dream Teams to the Games in 1992. The Americans are undefeated in Olympic action since settling for bronze at the Athens Games, going a perfect 16-0, knocking off Spain in the gold-medal game in 2008 and 2012.
The Spaniards, three-time silver medalists, remain USA’s closest competition on the betting lines, pegged at +1000 on those Rio Olympics odds.
Winners in three of the past four European Basketball Championships, Spain’s Olympic squad also features names familiar to NBA fans, including Pau Gasol of the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and the Lakers’ Jose Calderon. They’re joined by a strong supporting cast of players from Spanish league champions Real Madrid.
France settled for a distant sixth-place finish four years ago, in just their second appearance at the Olympics since 1984, but after knocking off Canada last month with an 83-74 victory in the final of a FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Les Bleus enter the tournament sporting healthy +1400 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Led by young Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Serbia sports intriguing +2200 odds, ahead of host nation Brazil, which looks to build on their gold medal victory at the 2015 Pan American Games as a long +2800 bet.
Argentina, the last team to hand the United States a loss on an Olympic court, also sits at +2800, alongside Lithuania, followed by Croatia at +5000, and Australia at +15000, while China, Venezuela, and Nigeria are distant longshots, each listed at +50000.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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