Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Nigeria forward Al-Farouq Aminu (7) shoots over Lithuania forward Simas Jasaitis (10) in the men's preliminary game during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Team USA plays an African nation for the second game in a row, and once again it will not be competitive. In fact, you have to feel a bit sorry for Nigeria playing the Americans AFTER they looked lackluster at the start against Tunisia. Odds are they will remember that and not want to repeat it -- I think Team USA jumps on Nigeria for the opening tip this time.
Nigeria's two best players were teammates on the Clippers two seasons ago, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu. The team also features Farouq's older brother, Alade, who played his college ball at Georgia Tech, and a handful of other guys (most of them born in the US but of Nigerian descent) who played NCAA ball -- Koko Archibong went to Penn, Tony Skinn went to George Mason, etc.
The Nigeria's have had a terrible time scoring in the tournament, averaging just 56.5 points in two games, and they can't shoot the three at all -- 3 for 29 so far, yikes. None of that is going to get any better against the pressure defense of the US.
This tournament is great experience for Aminu, who has all of the physical attributes of a terrific NBA small forward, but lacks refinement in his game. Being the man for Nigeria, taking responsibility for shot creation and being aggressive on offense is exactly what he needs. Unfortunately, based on what I saw of him against Lithuania, he still has a long way to go. Rebounding, defense, general athleticism, all that stuff he can do. Making basketball plays is coming slowly if at all.
There are of course five other games today. France and Lithuania will be important for Group A seeding and could go either way. Neither team looked very good in their first game, and both looked much better in the second game. Since France beat Argentina while Lithuania lost to them, logic would indicate that France should win, but somehow I'm not convinced.
Brazil versus Russia is a meeting of unbeatens in Group B, and with Spain playing Great Britain, the winner will just be keeping pace. Russia has been the more impressive team so far, but it's not like they've played anyone decent yet.
The most important game of the day is China versus Australia, which could very well determine the fourth place finisher in Group B -- in other words, the winner will likely be Team USA's opponent in the quarterfinals.