Sporting classic 1992 Dream Team uniforms, the U.S. men’s basketball team narrowly beat Argentina, 86-80, in an exhibition Sunday in the same city where Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and company won gold.
On Tuesday night in Barcelona, the latest batch of NBA all-stars to sport the red, white and blue face another formidable foe in Spain — the team they beat to win gold four years ago in Beijing. Granted, it’s only an exhibition, and both teams are still polishing up their chemistry ahead of preliminary round play, which begins Sunday in London.
“It’s an exhibition game. I think both teams are going to try to (use) different lineups, going to try maybe different stuff, but at the end of the day you know you’re not going to show a lot of things to the other team,” Spain guard Jose Calderon told the Associated Press. “You’re not going to have a medal if you win or if you lost tomorrow.”
That may be the case, but with ultra-competitive players on both squads — and the Spanish playing before their home crowd — Kobe Bryant isn’t expecting the Americans’ top rival to simply lay down.
“There’s not a chance,” Bryant said Monday. “It’s not just practice. It’s impossible.”
With brothers Pau and Marc Gasol manning the paint, the Spanish should test a guard-heavy lineup from the U.S. that lacks a true post scorer and at times struggled to match Argentina’s physical style.
“It’ll definitely be a great test,” Pau Gasol said. “We believe in our chances, but it’s just a friendly game. Obviously we’d rather lose tomorrow and win in London.”
Read a full preview of Tuesday’s exhibition matchup here.