After dropping a pair of exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, the United States men's basketball team got off to an ugly start at the Tokyo Olympics by losing its group-stage opener to France. It put the U.S. in position to have to win its next two games to make it into the quarterfinal round, which it did, defeating Iran and the Czech Republic by a combined 89 points.
Now the knockout stage begins. Lose one game, and your gold medal hopes are finished. Team USA got a tough draw, facing Spain, the No. 2 ranked team in the world, in its quarterfinal matchup (Tuesday, 12:40 a.m. ET). The full bracket is below:
Italy (10) vs. France (7)
Slovenia (16) vs. Germany (17)
USA (1) vs. Spain (2)
Australia (3) vs. Argentina (4)
As you can see, should the U.S. get past Spain, which will be no small task, it would face the winner of Australia/Argentina (ranked Nos. 3 and 4 in the world) in the semifinals. In other words, the top four teams in the FIBA rankings are all on Team USA's side of the bracket. Australia has beaten the U.S. the last two times they've met (2019 World Cup exhibition; 2021 Tokyo Olympics exhibition).
Spain, which went 2-1 in group play after defeating Japan and Argentina before losing to Slovenia, boasts plenty of current and former NBA players, led by Ricky Rubio, Marc and Pau Gasol, Willy Hernangomez, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez and Alex Abrines. The U.S. defeated Spain in its final exhibition, 83-76, before departing for Tokyo.
At the risk of looking too far ahead, should the Americans get past Spain and either Australia or Argentina, another tough opponent would await in the gold medal game -- potentially Slovenia, which is led by Luka Doncic and went 3-0 through its group stage.
Below are the dates and times for the quarterfinals and the medal rounds:
Monday, Aug. 2
Germany vs. Slovenia, 9 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Aug. 3
United States vs. Spain, 12:40 a.m. ET
Italy vs. France, 4:20 a.m. ET
Australia vs. Argentina, 8 a.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 5
Quarterfinals 1 winner vs. Quarterfinals 2 winner, 12:15 a.m. ET
Quarterfinals 3 winner vs. Quarterfinals 4 winner, 7 a.m. ET
Gold Medal Game
Friday, Aug. 6
Semifinals 1 winner vs. Semifinals 2 winner, 10:30 p.m. ET
Bronze Medal Game
Saturday, Aug. 7
Semifinals 1 loser vs. Semifinals 2 loser, 7 a.m. ET