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Olympics: Group A Preview

Here is a look at the six teams competing in Group A, including the defending gold medalists

Here is a look at the six teams competing in Group A, including the defending gold medalists:

Argentina: World Ranking- 3rd; 6th Olympic Appearance

Squad: Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Marcos Mata, Leonardo Gutierrez, Pablo Prigioni, Juan Pedro Gutierrez, Carlos Delfino, Facundo Campazzo, Martin Leiva, Andres Nocioni, Hernan Jansen, Federico Kammerichs

Argentina are just one of four nations to win Olympic gold and will look to repeat their feat from the 2004 games when they compete in London. The roster contains six members of the Athens roster including NBA star, Manu Ginobili and their experienced captain, Luis Scola. The South Americans made it to the Olympics with victory in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship with Scola being named tournament MVP; averaging 21.4 ppg. It is likely that Argentina will have to beat Spain and the USA in order to improve on their bronze medal from four years ago.

Prediction: Bronze

France: World Ranking- 12th; 8th Olympic Appearance

Squad: Kevin Seraphin, Nicolas Batum, Fabien Causeur, Yakhouba Diawara, Ali Traore, Tony Parker, Yannick Bokolo, Florent Pietrus, Nando De Colo, Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, Mickael Gelabale

France qualified for London 2012 by reaching the final at last year’s Eurobasket, claiming silver at the event for the first time since 1949. Tony Parker, a multiple NBA champion, is an influential figure in the team and led the way with a 22.1 ppg average in the tournament as well as helping France win the 2011 London invitational event. French hopes have been hit with the withdrawal of Joakim Noah through injury. Twice before have the French claimed Olympic silver but will have to be at their best in London to have a chance of a medal.

Prediction: Quarter-Finals

Lithuania: World Ranking- 5th; 6th Olympic Appearance

Squad: Rimantas Kaukenas, Mantas Kalnietis, Jonas Maciulis, Martynas Pocius, Simas Jasaitis, Darius Songalia, Renaldas Seibutis, Linas Kleiza, Paulius Jankunas, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Jonas Valanciunas, Antanas Kavaliauskas

Lithuania qualified for their sixth consecutive Olympics through the qualifying tournament in Venezuela. Victories over Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the knockout stage were enough to secure their place in London. Lithuania secured a bronze medal in their first three Olympic outings and then missed out on two more; finishing fourth in both the 2004 and 2008 events. 36 year-old, Sarunas Jasikevicius will be competing in a fourth Olympics and is joined in the squad by former NBA player, Linas Kleiza, who top scored for his nation in the OQT. Finishing in the top three of the group would be a boost to their medal chances as it would seem likely they would avoid Spain in the last eight.

Prediction: Quarter-Finals

Nigeria: World Ranking- 21st; 1st Olympic Appearance

Squad: Tony Skinn, Ekene Ibekewe, Ike Diogu, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ade Dagunduro, Chamberlain Oguchi, Koko Archibong, Richard Oruche, Ejike Ugboaja, Derrick Obasohan, Alade Aminu, Olumide Oyedeji

Nigeria qualified for the Olympics for the first time in their history, securing the final spot with a win over the Dominican Republic at the Olympic qualifying tournament. During the tournament, Nigeria proved their place with a shock win over Greece, who are ranked fourth in the world. Ike Diogu has played for several NBA teams in his career and the forward made an impression in Venezuela with a tournament average of 16.6 ppg along with 10.8 rpg. The squad only features one player currently in the NBA and that is 21 year-old, Al-Farouq Aminu, who is at the New Orleans Hornets in the NBA. Tunisia are first up for Nigeria and that could realistically be both side’s only chance of securing a victory at the games.

Prediction: Group Stage

Tunisia: World Ranking- 32nd; 1st Olympic Appearance

Squad: Radhouane Slimane, Marouan Laghnej, Amine Maghrebi, Mourad El Mabrouk, Marouan Kechrid, Mohamed Hdidane, Atef Maoua, Mokhtar Ghyaza, Makrem Ben Romdhane, Amine Rzig, Mehdi Hafsi, Salah Mejri

Another team competing in their first Olympic basketball tournament, Tunisia qualified as the winners of the 2011 African Championships; beating Angola 67-56 in the final. Tunisia’s victory was their first gold medal at the championships in 19 attempts. Marouan Kechrid was the top scorer in the final with 21 points but it was sixth-man, Macram Ben Romdhane who led the team with a tournament average of 12.7 ppg. Ahead of the Olympics, Tunisia’s most notable victory was over a depleted Great Britain side in Belgium.

Prediction: Group Stage

United States: World Ranking- 1st; 17th Olympic Appearance

Squad: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, James Harden, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony.

The United States have been a dominant force in Olympic basketball history with an incredible 13 gold medals to their name already. The US have won seventeen consecutive matches in recent competitions which saw them claim gold in Beijing and win the World Championships in 2010, which secured their spot in London. Kevin Durant was the tournament’s MVP in Turkey and is joined in the roster by the double-NBA MVP for the recent season, LeBron James as well as 33 year old superstar, Kobe Bryant. US Coach Mike Krzyzewski, was still able to field a strong 12-man roster despite the notable absences of Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

Prediction: Gold

Day 1 Schedule (29th July)- Nigeria v Tunisia (09:00), USA v France (14:15), Argentina v Lithuania (22:15)

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