USA - Russia Elimination Game Preview

        On Thursday afternoon, Team USA will be facing the Russia, so takes a look into their matchup:

        The Russians hold an overall record of 6-1 at this point, defeating the likes of Puerto Rico, the Ivory Coast, China and Greece in Group play, and then taking down New Zealand in the first round of elimination play. Their only loss came at the hands of Turkey by 9 points, shooting just 32% against the Turkish defense. Russia features a trio of big men in Sasha Kaun, Timofey Mozgov and Andrei Vorontsevich that might give the Americans some trouble with their lack of depth in the frontcourt. Lamar Odom will get the start at the center position and Andre Iguodala back at power forward, but Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler should get some major minutes with the 6'11" Kaun, 7'1" Mozgov and 6'10" Vorontsevich  opposing them. Odom and Iguodala have thrived defensively due to most of the frontcourt players he has played against in the tournament thus far have been perimeter-oriented players; Vorontsevich, Kaun and Mozgov are more traditional big men that operate down low. To combat the height disadvantage they will face, look for Coach Krzyzewski to press the guards in the full-court and in the halfcourt and prevent the Russians from running their pick-and-roll offense.

        A key Russian key that will be shadowed by Derrick Rose and a combination of guards will be lefty point guard Anton Ponkrashov. At 6'7" and versatile, he will cause a mismatch for the American defender that draws his assignment, but Ponkrashov can be contained and held in check because he is not overly quick or athletic. Team USA will need to keep him out of the lane and force him to shoot from the outside. Kevin Durant will likely draw 6'8" swingman Sergei Monia, a lethal perimeter shooter if left open.

        The Americans have a more talented roster all around, but they'll need to keep playing with the same tenacity and aggressiveness that had them running all over Angola in Monday's 55-point victory. Russia's length could give the United State's problems all-around, especially with the smaller lineup Coach  Krzyzewski has been going with, but look for key play off the Americans bench to lead them to victory.

By Chris Andrews