Team USA looks golden against Venezuela

As we reported previously, the FIBA Tournament of the Americas kicked off on Wednesday, August 23 with a handful of games. Team USA, with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in tow, beat…check that demolished Venezuela 112-69 during the final game of the evening at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV. Despite the fact that ESPN did its best to hide the game from potential TV viewers by showing it live on ESPN Classic at 11pm Eastern Time, we were able to track down the broadcast and watch the entire game.

The FIBA tournament has generally been a cakewalk in recent years for the US Senior National Team, but the final score in last night’s game is no indication of the kind of dominance shown by the US squad – they looked pretty damn good! Carmelo Anthony and Michael Redd each led the team with 17 points as part of a balanced scoring attack, but it was the defensive intensity, passion and hustle from this group of NBA superstars that was truly unbelievable. In the opening quarter in particular, we actually felt sorry for the Venezuelan point guard, as Kobe got up in his face from the opening tip, relentlessly harassed the ball and came away with a couple of steals. Kobe generally rattled his man to the point where the Venezuelan player was more content to pass the ball away than even think about making a dribble move or taking a shot. Kobe definitely set the tone, and Carmelo agreed.

"We just wanted to be aggressive from the jump," Anthony said. "Kobe Bryant really set the tone on the defensive end pushing up on guys and getting a couple of steals. We fed off that."

Despite shooters like Redd and Mike Miller on the team, we don’t think Team USA will win this FIBA tournament or the Olympic gold by out-shooting their opponents. International players, European players in particular, are simply better shooters from the shorter International 3-point line. So, it will be defense that wins the gold. And judging from last night, this Team USA is ready to play some serious clamp down, rattle your opponent, in-your-face pressure defense.


Anonymous said...

awkward..there's no mention of this game anywhere else other than ur blog.

b4hoops said...

Apparently ESPN really did do a poor job of publicizing this game.

They did post a story on it here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=wojciechowski_gene&id=2987546

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update!