In a rematch of 2014’s FIBA World Championship for Women, the U.S. Women’s National Team will take on Spain in Monday’s early game. Tip-off for the clash of two women’s basketball standouts is at 11 A.M., which you can watch on NBCSN or via live streaming here.
The contest features two countries with different trajectories in the world basketball scene. USA’s resume speaks for itself; they are on the quest for a sixth straight gold at the Rio Olympics, and will have captured nine straight medals if they make a podium appearance in Brazil. They are one of the most dominant programs in team sports.
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What Spain lacks in historical dominance, they make up for in recent success. The Spanish women are without an Olympic medal to their credit, but medals in the 2014 World Championship (Silver) and 2013 FIBA Eurobasket (Gold) represent recent high points for the program. They enter the competition ranked third, trailing only America and Australia, the latter of whom medaled in the last five Olympics.
The rising stars will still have to play a near-perfect game in order to upset USA. Team USA presents matchup issues for just about every team in the tournament, and that starts with their frontline. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury is the new face in the pivot, standing three inches taller than anyone in Spain’s lineup. Griner should be able to feast in the paint and create plenty of second chances in the event shots aren’t falling.
If Spain tries to double Griner down low, USA has the shooting to make them pay. Two of the WNBA’s top three-point shooters — Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne and Seattle’s Sue Bird — will be happy to bomb open shots from downtown if given the chance.
Playing the toughest team in their group on the second day of a back-to-back isn’t a cakewalk, so Team USA has to stay sharp regardless of their historic dominance. USA was caught off guard once before in Brazil, falling in the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship against Russia. It remains the program’s only defeat in Olympic or World Championship play since 1992.
Don’t expect another outlier in Rio. The USA’s inside-out mix of vets and young stars should be more than enough to push them to victory, continuing down the path to yet another gold medal.
USA vs. Spain
Time: 11 a.m. ET
Streaming: NBC Sports