Rio 2016 Olympics Team USA Gold
Photo: FIBA

With an incredible haul of 23 Gold Medals, Team USA are by far the most successful nation in the history of men’s Olympic basketball. With the delayed Tokyo tournament now back on the schedules, the United States are fully expected to add to that tally but there is hope for other competing nations.

A poor showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup shows that this great side isn’t unbeatable and there will be some tough challenges from within the chasing pack.

History on their side

That run of 23 golds is put into true perspective when put alongside the remaining resultsfrom Olympic basketball history. Behind the US, the former Soviet Union are in second place in the overall standings with four golds while Argentina, Yugoslavia and a Unified Team who replaced the USSR in 1992, are the only other countries to have won the title.

Based on historical stats alone, US sportsbooks affiliated to will be showing Team USA as the clear favourites to win gold again in 2021. Expect the latest version of the ‘Dream Team’ to be an odds on pick as the competition approaches.

Throughout the summer games, will be updating those markets and there will be bets in place for all the major competitions in Tokyo. With news, opinion and a choice of offers and promotions in place, this is something of a one stop shop for bettors during the games.

World Cup Upset

The NBA is the biggest and best basketball league in the world and, while players from across the globe have an influence, it’s the domestic talent that stands out. Team USA should travel to Tokyo with the strongest roster but that doesn’t mean that Olympic Gold is guaranteed.

In 2019, another powerful squad travelled to China to take part in the 18th edition of the FIBA basketball World Cup. Once again, America were fully expected to win the competition but things didn’t quite go as planned.

It all started positively enough in the preliminary rounds as the US won all of their three matches to progress to the next stage. In the second round, the side was barely challenged as it claimed another five straight wins to move through to the quarter finals. 

An upset was in store, however, as the French overcame Team USA in that quarter final match. A 89-79 scoreline provided the shock of the tournament and the US had to make do with the consolation of winning the seventh place match.

The Challengers

Spain would ultimately win the FIBA men’s World Cup and they should provide another challenge in Tokyo this summer. Argentina lost out to the Spanish in the final but both nations, along with Australia and France, earned automatic qualification to the upcoming Olympic Games.

Spain also showed strongly at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, claiming the bronze medal in a tight 89-88 game against Australia. In the gold medal match, Team USA comfortably beat Serbia by 96 points to 66 to extend their brilliant run. It is, however, worth remembering that the Serbians also beat the United States in the FIBA World Cup in 2019. That victory, in a semi final classification match, suggests that Serbia will also be in contention in Tokyo.

The biggest challengers to the US’ run of golds are, therefore, likely to be Serbia, Spain, Argentina, France and possibly Australia. It’s certainly good for neutrals to see a more competitive tournament but will Team USA beat off the competition and claim that 24th gold?

The Verdict

While we can’t ignore the results from the 2019 FIBA World Cup, they can be put into some perspective. Anyone can lose a one-off game, as the US did against France but the favorites were the best performing team up to that point. In 2021 in Tokyo, a stronger squad should descend on the Olympic Games and the ‘Dream Team’ will always be the ones to beat.

Positive results in 2019 and also at Rio in 2016 will give the likes of Spain and Serbia some hope. The days when the United States men’s team would stroll to another basketball gold medal may be over but they’re still at the head of the bunch.