Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Countdown Begins

So, one more sleep until the official start of Beijing 2008, but some events have already begun. No medals decided yet, but the ladies soccer has kicked off already with Canada edging Argentina 2-1. Not sure if that the game was a sell-out or not, but I doubt it.
  • The Australian basketball team gave the USA Redemption Team their first real test in the warm up games. Australia's league - the NBL is falling apart but the National squad proved to be a tougher match-up for the USA than many would have expected. Australia moved the ball very well on offense and got a lot of easy baskets, or wide-open looks. Offensively, the USA have plenty of options but defensively they weren't convincing. In the end, the USA overpowered Australia and it was no surprise that New Orleans Hornets superstar Chris Paul who took control and gave the win to the USA 87-76.
  • Australia will still struggle to get amongst the medals in this tournament but, based on this performance and an earlier game where they lost by 5 to Argentina after leading by 19 at one stage, they could play the spoiler role and take out one of the big four - USA, Greece, Spain or Argentina.
  • Argentina was my early tip to win the Gold Medal, but with injuries to Manu Ginobili and Pepe Sanchez, Bronze might be their best hope now. Ginobili has said he's ok, but he had some ankle issues at the end of the last NBA season and various sources are saying that he isn't 100% fit.
  • For those who fancy a wager, I'm going with Spain for Gold, the USA for Silver and then Argentina to meet Greece in the Bronze medal match up. Russia is the dark horse for a medal. Even with the vocal home-town support, I don't see China getting a medal.
  • The smog and air conditions in Beijing continue to get a lot of press. The Chinese organizers are saying that the air quality is ok, but they're hardly going to say it's not. From the images I've seen on TV, it looks pretty ugly in the city, but it's going to be the same for everyone, so the athletes are just going to have to deal with it.

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