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Sports in the spotlight

Soccer and basketball in the Olympic spotlight

Ronaldinho (No.10) leads the Brazilian men’s team, which has never won an Olympic tournament.

AFP/Getty Images

Ronaldinho (No.10) leads the Brazilian men’s team, which has never won an Olympic tournament.

Basketball

The big names

The NBA-stocked U.S. team led by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and coached by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. The Rockets' Yao Ming (China), the Spurs' Manu Ginobili (Argentina), the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), the Lakers' Pau Gasol (Spain), the Bucks' Andrew Bogut (Australia). The star-filled U.S. women's team, led by three-time gold medalist Lisa Leslie. Australia, led by veteran Lauren Jackson, should be the Americans' strongest challenger for the gold. Becky Hammon is an American playing for Russia.

The big events

China vs. U.S. men Sunday. The gold-medal games, Aug. 23 for the women, Aug. 24 for the men. Any game whose result would leave the U.S. men out of that game.

The biggest thing to know about it

Their rocky Olympic history hasn't kept the U.S. men from being considered the gold-medal favorites. While in Macau and Shanghai for exhibition games, the Chinese treated them like rock stars, according to media reports. The NBA estimates that 300-million people play basketball in China.

Soccer

The big names

The U.S. women won the gold in '04. Germany is the reigning World Cup champion, and Norway, Sweden and Brazil are still strong. Argentina is the defending men's gold medalist. Italy is composed almost entirely of Serie A league players. Ronaldinho, above, leads the Brazilian men (who have never won an Olympic tournament).

The big events

In the women's preliminary rounds, Brazil vs. Germany and U.S. vs. Norway today. The gold-medal game Aug. 21. On the men's side, Argentina fighting it out with two teams with good pre-Games buzz, Serbia and Ivory Coast, in one qualifying group for two spots in the round of eight. The gold-medal game Aug. 23.

The biggest thing to know about it

For the women: The United States is without leading scorer Abby Wambach, who broke her leg last month in an Olympic warmup match, and Sweden lost one of its best players, forward Hanna Ljungberg, to a hamstring injury this week. For the men: The tournament is for players under 23, but each team can have up to three older players.

Sharon Fink, Times staff writer

Soccer and basketball in the Olympic spotlight 08/05/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:24am]
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