By Iain Rogers
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain can learn from a patchy U.S. performance against Argentina on Sunday, guard Jose Manuel Calderon said, as the Iberians prepare to test themselves against the Olympic champions in Tuesday's final warm-up match before the Games.
An erratic U.S. managed to hold off the Argentines 86-80 in a friendly at Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi but Calderon said they appeared to switch off at times which could provide a valuable lesson in London for Spain, silver medalists behind the Americans four years ago.
"The U.S. started really hard and made a lot of shots but everybody can make shots," Calderon told reporters after a training session in the Catalan capital on Monday.
"At the end of the day it's 40 minutes, you gotta keep playing," added the Toronto Raptors guard. "That's the thing we can learn about yesterday."
While a below-par U.S. performance may give the Spanish hope they can go one better than in Beijing, Calderon said it would be wrong to draw too many conclusions from what was, after all, only an exhibition game.
"Both teams played good, both teams tried different things," he said.
"Because we are practicing, getting ready for the Olympics, ...it's not about winning this type of game.
"So you could see different lineups, different defense sets, just trying stuff. You don't know whether you're going to use them in the Olympics."
While the U.S. remain hot favorites to retain their Olympic title, the squad has lost a number of taller players to injury, including Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Chris Bosh of the NBA champions Miami Heat and LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland.
That means Spain may be able to make their size advantage count, with Los Angeles Lakers 7-footer (2.13m) Pau Gasol alongside his 7-foot-1 (2.16m) younger brother Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies and 6-foot-10 (2.08m) Serge Ibaka, another member of the NBA finalist Oklahoma City Thunder.
Asked about the height issue, Calderon said the U.S. had so many quality players to draw on they would not necessarily be weakened by the injuries that hit their frontcourt.
"With the guys that are not here it could be better or not. That's why I think it's better to just forget about it."
Looking ahead to Tuesday's clash, the Gasol brothers also played down the significance of the meeting, which could well be a preview of next month's gold medal match at the North Greenwich Arena.
"It'll definitely be a great test and we believe in our chances but it's just a friendly game," Pau Gasol told reporters. "Obviously we'd rather lose tomorrow and win in London."
Marc Gasol added: "It's a nice game, it's a beautiful game to play but at the end of the day what matters is the Olympics."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)