Team U.S.A. has been waiting for this rematch against Argentina ever since the 2004 Games. As Kobe Bryant summed up recently, "The Redeem Team" wants to reclaim America's place atop the basketball world.
"We want to play the best. We want to play the defending champions,'' Bryant said. "We're all about challenges. You want to play the guy who won it the last time.''
Here are four keys to remember if the Americans are going to make that happen:
Remember Athens: I am sure every player on the U.S. squad has some extra motivation for this game, but Coach K would be wise to show a tape of the end of the '04 U.S.-Argentina game. That game changed the course of U.S.A. Basketball and showed the world that the Americans were no longer the team to beat in international play.
Stop Manu: We've heard all tournament long about how much Kobe Bryant has enjoyed the role of "stopper," defending the best player on each team, and shutting them down. If ever there was a game where he needed to do that, it would be today. Ginobili torched the Americans in '04 and leads the Argentinians with over 20 points in Beijing. If Bryant and LeBron James can slow Manu down, Argentina will struggle.
Don't stop running: I've said it several times over the course of the last two weeks, this U.S. team is the most athletic squad in the history of Olympic Basketball. They are at their best in a fast-paced transition game. Argentina is probably going to try and slow the tempo down, but if the Americans apply the same pressure defense that they've used throughout the tournament, that's not going to happen.
Stay hot from behind the three-point line: After struggling for most of the tournament from behind the arc, Team U.S.A. went 9-for-16 from three-point land during the second-half of Wednesday's win over Australia. If the Americans can continue hit their outside shot, Argentina is in trouble.
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