U.S. still on top of the world?

Originally Published: August 24, 2004
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider

After three weeks of watching Team USA sleepwalk through the prelims and the opening games of the Olympics, the Dreaming Team finally blew somebody out. Little Angola felt the fierce wrath of the Americans on Monday.

At least now Larry Brown & Co. can head into the medal round knowing American basketball still trumps Africa. The rest of the world? Now we'll see.

Team USA lost in a blowout to Puerto Rico, squeaked by Greece and Australia and suffered a close loss to Lithuania in the prelims. Of those four teams, only Lithuania was favored to medal.

Now the real challenge begins. First up for Team USA? An undefeated Spain team led by NBA big man Pau Gasol. If Team USA gets by the Spaniards on Thursday, it faces a possible showdown with Argentina in the semifinals.

If Team USA can win that, it will be poised for the gold medal game on Saturday – most likely a rematch against either Lithuania, Puerto Rico or Italy.

Here's Insider's preview of who the United States will have to face and beat if it wants to win the gold medal Remember, this is a single-elimination tournament. If Team USA loses Thursday, it will not medal.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer