Jayson Tatum and USA Basketball won't be able to win a gold medal this week. A quarterfinal matchup against one of Tokyo's top teams will make it difficult.
Spain will take on the USA at 12:40 a.m. ET on Tuesday, in the first round for the knockout portion. With a score of 2-1, the Americans finished pool play in second place in Group B behind undefeated France. On Sunday, a draw was held to determine the quarterfinal matchups between the eight remaining teams after pool play.
The winner of Australia-Argentina will face USA in the semifinals. If they beat France, that could set the stage to face an Australia team which upset the Americans last month in Las Vegas.
USA defeated Spain 83 to76 in their last exhibition matchup in Las Vegas, which was the final game of the team before heading to Tokyo.
Tatum scored a game-high 27 point victory over the Czech Republic, and will be playing a crucial role in Gregg Popovich's sixth man role in the Olympic medal round.
Gregg Popovich, Team USA head coach, said that Tatum is more confident and makes better decisions. He's made a few catch after the first one, then he drives it. He can also find a partner to drive it so he does both for himself and his team. At the beginning of the league, he didn't do this. He was a scorer. He is now more valuable for doing the other things. He is starting to rebound. We have been telling him that we aren't that big so we need him on board."
Tatum wants the USA to continue building on their momentum after rebounding from the surprise defeat against France in its pool play opener.
Tatum stated, "Our faith never faltered." We knew it was not going to be easy. Our full team wasn't available until five days ago, four days before the deadline, so we knew there were many challenges ahead. We also know that we will continue to improve each day. Each game, every practice would bring us closer together. We were never going to be the exact same team from the beginning. We're hopefully better next week than we are today.