Olympic Basketball: Previewing USA vs. Tunisia


At 5:15 PM Eastern Time, Team USA will take on Tunisia.  The game will air on the NBC Sports Network (check your local provider for listings).

This afternoon, the US will resume action in men’s basketball in Pool A play against Tunisia at London’s Olympic Park Basketball Arena.  Sunday’s 98-71 win over France meant that the United States U.S. won its 10th consecutive Olympic game.

Entering the game, Tunisia is 0-1 in not just pool play but all-time in the Olympics.  Tunisia had nearly stunned Nigeria on Sunday but lost 60-56.

How they got here: Tunisia was able to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London when they won their first championship at the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship in Madagascar.

Team USA leads the series 1-0 and today marks their second meeting all-time.  It is their first meeting at the Olympics.  Their only meeting was in preliminary play at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey.  The USA won 92-57.

Olympic Pool Play record: 74-2 (97.4%)
All-Time Olympic Record: 123-5 (96.1%)
All-Time National Team Record: 110-7

Probable Starters
United States
F – Kevin Durant
F – LeBron James
C – Tyson Chandler
G – Kobe Bryant
G- Chris Paul

F – R. Slimane
F –  M. Ben Romdhane
C – Salah Mejri
G – Nizar Knioua
G – Marouan Kechrid

Just how good is this American team playing in London?  Look at the numbers.

  • 43 NBA All-Star Game selections
  • 40 All-NBA selections
  • 21 All-NBA first-team selections
  • 22 NBA All-Defensive selections
  • 15 NBA All-Defensive first-team selection,
  • 7 NBA championship rings
  • 6 NBA scoring titles
  • 4 NBA MVP Awards

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant coach Jim Boeheim combine for 7 NCAA championships and 20 Final Four appearances.

Sunday’s win over France saw an assist percentage of 87.1%, which was the highest of the day.  Assists came on 27 of the USA’s 31 field goals.

This Tunisia team is clearly nowhere close to the talent that Team USA has.

” The main thing is that it’s about our performance,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said about how Team USA is preparing for the game.  “We should beat Tunisia, but we want to play well against Tunisia. When you play games in your pool where you’re a significant favorite, you don’t want to win, you want to maintain and build good habits. So, we don’t want to overlook anybody because then we overlook ourselves. In a short period of time you can fall into a bad habit that will have its impact on a game where you’re not a significant favorite.”

“I think it’s a lot about us,” assistant coach Chris Collins said about the keys to winning tonight’s game.  “We’re going to be bigger than them.  We’re more athletic.  Obviously, more talented.  We need to come focused and ready to play.  It’s going to be about our preparation and our effort-level … hopefully making it a fast-paced game and an athletic game … not letting them dictate the tempo.  They’re going to try to hold the ball until the end of clocks, get open shots and lull us into a slower game.  If we can come out and impose our will early, then we should have a lot of success.”

“He’s a great kid,” center Tyson Chandler said of former Kentucky Wildcat star Anthony Davis.  “He’s a great kid with a great personality.  He’s willing to learn.  That’s what you always look at as a veteran looking at a rookie.  You want to feel like you can help him.  You want to feel like he can be coached and he’s willing to learn.  That’s his biggest quality: he’s willing to learn.”

Chandler gave an example of Davis’ willingness to learn.

“Whenever I’m off the court and he’s on the court, I’m watching him because I’m only going to be around him for this short period of time and I want to be able to help him as much as I can.  So, while he’s on the floor and I see that he’s done something wrong I’ll pull him to the side and let him know how things are going to be and what he’s going to see next year in the league to better prepare himself.   He’s always paying attention, taking information and wanting to learn.”

USA Basketball has a complete preview of the game here.