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August 2, 2008

Olympics – Basketball: USA Redeem Team 3-0, Looking Really Good

 Team U.S. A has arrived in Macau, China.  Macau is on the SE coast of China just a 50 minute ferry ride SW of Hong Kong and a three hour flight to Beijing.  Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China.  Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the ‘handover’ on December 20, 1999.  Macau is the most densely populated region in the world; with a population density of 18,428 persons per kilometer (one kilometer is .062 of a mile). 

Five percent of Macau’s population is Chinese; another two percent is of mixed Chinese/Portuguese descent, an ethnic group often referred to as Macanese. Macau is believed to have the best food on the Chinese continent and Macau is clean and fog free!

Before they arrived in China, Team USA had their exhibition opener against Canada.  They scored, they dazzled and they dunked – they beat Canada 120-65.  Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Michael Redd each had game-high total of 20 points each.

 Kobe Bryant played 23 minutes and scored 15 points, making six of 10 shots.  The U.S. shot 65.7%, Canada just 33.3%. The rebounding department was equally one-sided, the U.S. outrebounding Canada, 38-24.

On Thursday, LeBron James led with 20 points and added five steals as the U.S. men’s basketball squad beat Turkey 114-82 Thursday at the Cotai Arena in Macao.

It is the second straight win for Team USA as they prepare for the Beijing Olympics. Our team started strong offensively with James and Kobe Bryant on the helm.

But Turkey matched the U.S. firepower pulling briefly ahead 27-24 along the way. Team USA was up by one at the end of the first period.

In the second quarter, our team settled down, clamping on the lanes and the denying the shooters.  As a result, Turkey managed only seven points with nine turnovers and went scoreless in the final minutes of the half.

Then Team USA put on the pressure and in one stretch Turkey committed six turnovers in seven possessions!

The U.S. outscored their Turkey 23-7 in the second period and was up 17 points at the break.

Bryant struggled offensively with seven points but contributed five steals and seven assists. Team USA finished with a total of 16 steals.

 Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh pumped in 13 points apiece, while Chris Paul chipped in 12 points and six assists.

 On Friday, Dwayne Wade scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Team USA beat Lithuania 120-84.

“I’m healthy again, as healthy as I’ve been in two years and I’m excited not only about this opportunity, but I’m excited about the rest of my career because now I know what it takes and the weight room has become my best friend. Hard work got me here,” said Wade.

The best piece of defensive work was performed by Bryant (who the team has nicknamed – ‘The Doberman’ – who was all over Jasikevicius like white on rice – the same way he was against Leandro Barbosa of Brazil last summer.  This is the same Jasikevicius who burned the Americans four years ago in Athens by burying seven 3-pointers and scoring 28 points in an opening-round victory over the U.S. And although it has been only four years since then, so thorough was the job Bryant did on Jasikevicius that he made him look like a player 10 years past his prime.

“He had a great game against us a few years ago, and he was real brash about it, trash talking and things of that nature. So it’s my responsibility to bring it to him,” Bryant said.

Bryant took the lead role, but the other starters helped out on traps and used their quick hands to force Jasikevicius into mistake after mistake — with a couple of missed shots thrown in — as they sprinted out to a 24-5 lead. Bryant had the last five points in that opening run, recovering after losing his balance to knock down a bank shot from the elbow, then nailing a long 3 as Lithuania went to a zone — something Canada and Turkey hadn’t done in the Americans’ first two exhibitions.

Dwight Howard scored 17 points, Michael Redd had 16, and LeBron James contributed 15 points for Team USA. The team heads to Shanghai, where they will play Russia on Sunday; they will play Australia in Shanghai on Tuesday, their final exhibition game before the Olympics.

Team USA is scheduled to open the Olympic basketball event against host China on August 10.

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3 Comments »

  1. Yep, Team USA is doin’ good so far. That being said, it’s only some little scrimmage games.

    Comment by Julien — August 3, 2008 @ 8:47 am | Reply

  2. Julien — they seem to be emotionally vested though. They are behaving like a ‘team’ and are working together well — no ego freak shows. That’s very important.

    Comment by Paulette — August 3, 2008 @ 9:19 am | Reply


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