The United States will start as massive favourites to strike gold in the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at the Olympics. But is there any stopping Uncle Sam’s finest?
Chances are that the USA men’s team will repeat their victory of Beijing 2008, with NBA stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant lighting up London. They’re at a narrow 1.10 to take the title and 1.06 to win Group A of the preliminary round.
But don’t think gold is a guarantee. By the Americans’ own admission, they have flaws in their armour - Spain will be the team they fear most. Unlike their rivals, the reigning European champions are at full strength and have already set out their ambition to top the podium. It’s worth a flutter on Los Rojos at 7.00 – or even any team but the USA at 6.50.
Beyond that, France – led by Tony Parker - are 3.50 for a medal with Lithuania at a very tempting 5.25. Remembering, however, that the Spaniards have traditionally been slow starters, have a look at Russia to win Group B at 3.75.
In terms of tournament progress, the format of just eliminating just two teams in the opening round out of each six-team group could make for some dramatic clashes. Nigeria and Tunisia are expected to be also-rans, while China (1.15) and Great Britain (2.40) can be tipped for early exits.
The USA are capable of putting points up like no other team. There’s a good offer at 4.50 for them to go over 130 points in any match during the tournament. They’re also 1000.0 to go out in the first round. Give that one a miss.
In the women’s tournament, the United States is an even more prohibitive gold medal favourite at 1.07. It’s simply impossible to see them faltering in their quest for a fifth successive Olympic title, given the quality of their line-up.
Behind that, the battle for places is altogether more intriguing. Australia, silver medallists in the last three Games, are at 1.20 but they’re not the side they once were. While Russia, also at 1.20, will miss the injured Maria Stepanova.
Hence there may be some surprises on the cards. Turkey are a generous 10.00 to take any medal while Great Britain, who have had some great results in recent weeks, are great value at 25.00 to land on the podium. In the betting for Any Team but the USA, back the Turks at 20.00. Or plump instead for GB at 20.00 to finish in the top two in Group B.
Bet of the Games: Back Spain for men’s gold at 7.00 or take Great Britain women for 1-2 in Group A at 20.00.