Olympics Preview: Jayson Tatum, USA Men’s Basketball Ready To Defend Gold

Team USA enters Tokyo as the three-time defending gold medalist

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The United States men’s basketball team enters the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a rather unfamiliar position.

Team USA, who has won 15 gold medals in Olympic history and travel to Tokyo as the three-time defending gold medalist, has not stomped out the international competition like previous teams had. Team USA finished seventh place at the World Championships in 2018. And most recently, Team USA lost to Nigeria, the same country it beat by 83 points in 2012, and Australia during an underwhelming .500 performance in Las Vegas.

Does Team USA boast enough talent to bring back gold? Well, yes. Of course it does.

After all, the 2021 group rosters a host of NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum.

There is plenty of talent. The challenge pertaining to Team USA is getting that talent to mesh together, to find cohesion among a star-studded group. It also could be a challenge for Team USA to overcome its lack of size, although the group’s scoring depth is unmatched.

SCHEDULE
(All games will be held at Saitama Super Arena, Japan)

Preliminary Round/Group A Play
Sunday vs. France, 8 a.m. ET
Wednesday vs. Iran, 12:40 a.m. ET
July 31: vs. Czech Republic, 8 a.m. ET

*Each group’s first- and second-place teams advance to the knockout round along with the two best third-place finishers. The remaining four teams are eliminated after the group stage.

Quarterfinals: Aug. 2 & Aug. 3
Semifinals: Aug. 5
Finals: Aug. 6
Bronze Medal Game: Aug. 7

LOCAL TIES
Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum will be representing Team USA. Tatum, 23, explained how he is looking forward to his first Olympics. Recently hired Celtics head coach Ime Udoka also has been helping out the coaching staff.

TOUGHEST OPPONENTS
Spain: The Spaniards are legit perhaps best depicted by the fact they’re ranked No. 2 in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Spain possesses the size — Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol — that could prove a tough matchup for Team USA while point guard Ricky Rubio is among the best playmakers in the NBA. Spain also has the experience and knowledge on how to play Team USA, who earned an exhibition win over the Spaniards last week.

Australia: The Aussies, No. 3 in FIBA, have never won a medal but came close to winning bronze in 2016. Australia’s roster contains an extensive amount of NBA players with Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Matisse Thybulle, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova and Josh Green.

France: It would be somewhat surprising if France and Team USA were not the two teams to advance out of Group A. It’s a group headlined by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, but France has plenty of other NBA talents like Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Frank Ntilikina. France finished sixth in the Rio Olympics but could flirt with the medal stand this time around.

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