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After meeting on the pitch Wednesday morning, Spain and Argentina will cross paths once again, this time on the basketball floor. This will be a rematch of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Final, with both nations representing two of the prominent national basketball teams over the past twenty years.
HISTORY: On top of defeating Argentina 95-75 and capturing the FIBA World Cup trophy, Spain has won both of their Olympics matchups, including a 92-73 victory at Rio 2016.
Gone are the days of Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni leading the national team to glory, but Argentina still carries a respectable roster and represents a tough out. Their exhibition results were shaky, with blowouts to Team USA and Nigeria clouding their outlook for the Olympics. They opened the tournament with the task of stopping Luka Doncic and the Slovenia national team, and let’s just say they were on the wrong side of history.
LUKA DONCIC OLYMPIC DEBUT
48 PTS | 11 REB | 5 AST | 3 BLK
— Overtime (@overtime) July 26, 2021
Luka lit up the Argentines in his Olympic debut, and with three straight massive losses, the 2004 Gold Medalists are sure to have their hands full with Spain.
Although Argentina has entered a new era of basketball, Luis Scola remains the heartbeat of the team. At age 41, this could be Scola’s final Olympic tournament. The captain will have the task of dealing with the Gasol brothers, and they’ve historically dominated the Argentina front line. Scola led the team with 23 points on 9/18 shooting in the loss to Slovenia.
Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo finished with 21 points, while OKC’s Gabriel Deck added 17 points. If Argentina wants to stop this losing skid, Facu has to contain Ricky Rubio, who always takes things to a higher level during international play.
Spain enters the field with the most experienced roster, and with their chemistry, they can contend for a Gold medal this summer. After losing a nail-biter to the United States in their final exhibition game, Spain opened the tournament with a wire-to-wire win over tournament host Japan.
Spain returns most of their 2019 FIBA World Cup-winning team. Sergio Scariolo’s team is led by the inside-outside duo of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio and Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol. Rubio was made for the international stage, and it shows at every tournament. The former EuroLeague champion led all scorers with 20 points and he dished out nine assists in the win over Japan.
Gasol scored 12 points, while Victor Claver added 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Pau Gasol and Alex Abrines combined for 20 points off of the bench. Rudy Fernandez will look to get things going after going 0-6 in the opener. The Real Madrid sniper posted a double-double in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Final win over Argentina.
Spain vs Argentina Prediction
This matchup would be an early 2000’s dream, but today in 2021, it has the makings of a blowout. Spain has remained in-tact and competitive, while the same can’t be said about their counterpart. Argentina represents a shell of their old selves, literally. Luis Scola can only take this team but so far, and he’s struggled with the Gasol’s over the course of time. Rubio vs. Facu will be a fun matchup to watch, but the overall depth of this Spanish national team should overwhelm Argentina early. Take Spain’s first-half Moneyline, and bet on them to win and cover the 8.5 spread.