BEIJING The United States can clinch an early berth in the Olympics men's basketball quarterfinals with a victory over Group B co-leader Spain tonight.
But it won't be easy for star-studded U.S. (3-0), since Spain (3-0) boasts plenty of NBA-caliber talent itself, including current, former or soon-to-be NBA players like brothers Pau and Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez.
Plus, a point guard by the name of Raul Lopez, the one-time member of the Utah Jazz, and another guard in 17-year-old Ricky Rubio, who looks several years under his age but plays with court savvy several years beyond.
"Obviously, we're very familiar with Pau and Calderon and a couple of other guys," said United States forward Carlos Boozer. "For us, all we have to do is play our style of basketball and continue to be confident and aggressive defensively."
For U.S. and Jazz teammate Deron Williams, it's out of the Greece fire and into the Spanish frying pan as far as quality backcourt opponents go.
"The Greece guards are the best we've faced yet, but I think it goes to another level with Spain," said Williams, adding "our approach is the same try to take them out of a lot of their stuff, pick up at full court and cause as many turnovers as we can."The USA-Spain winner will clinch a quarterfinals berth, with the loser still not in bad shape with Monday's slate of games concluding preliminary play. The top four teams advance, with no other Group B team having won more than one outing to date.