In Men’s Basketball action for the Tokyo Olympic Games on Thursday, Spain and Argentina will both continue their play in Group C at 8 a.m. ET. The game will tip off from the famous Saitama Super Arena.
Spain’s Strong Start
Spain started off the Olympics with a bang after they posted an 88-77 win over Japan in their Group C opener on Monday.
Point guard Ricky Rubio dropped 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting, and he also added 9 assists to the stat sheet. Forward Victor Claver gave Spain a solid performance as well, becoming a solid secondary option to Rubio with 13 points on a perfect 6-for-6 night.
Spain also has plenty of other former and current NBA talent on the roster. The Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, are both on the team, as well as Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez and small forward Alex Abrines, who rained in three triples to score 11 points off the bench. Abrines who now play in the EuroLeague for FC Barcelona formerly was a part of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So Spain is deep with NBA, or former NBA, talent, which adds to their chances in this strong Olympic competition.
Their game with Japan started off close, but thanks to a 19-0 run that was led by Rubio, they were able to push the pace for the remainder of the game.
Spain’s coach Sergio Scariolo employed an interesting strategy by dividing up minutes to all 12 players on the roster. Rubio, who led the team, only played 22 minutes, but their lineup was always fresh.
Argentina Has Issues to Fix
Argentina on the other hand did not have the best start, especially on defense, as they allowed Dallas Mavericks and NBA superstar Luka Doncic to explode for 48 points in his first-ever Olympic game. The game also marked the first-ever appearance for Slovenia in the Olympic Basketball competition.
48 points is tied for the second-highest total by any player in Olympic Basketball history.
Slovenia cruised to a 118-100 win behind Doncic against the Argentinians.
Former NBA player Luis Scola and current Denver Nuggets point guard Facundo Campazzo led the way for Argentina with 23 points and 21 points respectively.
The opening day of play in Group C started with Luka against Luis in their game. The phenom, Luka, against Scola, the 41-year-old veteran who was beginning his record-tying fifth Olympics in men’s basketball. Something that is only matched by previously mentioned Spaniard Pau Gasol and a few others.
But it was quickly clear Doncic would be the star of this show with 15 points before the game was five minutes old.
Argentina will be looking to bounce back in this game, but Spain is one tough test. Spain is one of the top teams in this competition, a heavy medal favorite, and their depth is one of the best as well.
Spain vs Argentina Pick
While both teams have strong squads, Spain is one of the heavy metal favorites, and there is a clear reason for that.
They have Olympic experience and veteran talent that should lead them to a long run in these Tokyo Olympics.
FanDuel Sportsbook has Spain listed as heavy favorites coming in at -440 on the money line and favored by 8.5 points on the spread.
With the expedition they were able to show on the defensive end, as well as the strategy that is being employed by their coaching staff, I have faith they can cover this spread with relative ease. There is no value on the money line for them, so the spread is the smarter route to take.
And if you take into account that Spain beat Argentina by 19 in their previous Olympic matchup and that they won the 2019 FIBA World Cup victory, they have the clear upper hand here.
Spain vs Argentina Pick: Spain -8.5 (-110). Odds Via FanDuel Sportsbook.