FIBA Americas Tournament – USA 112, Venezuela 69

It’s that time again folks, the one time of year I like to call the “twilight zone”, that late-summer/early-fall part when you have nearly every sport imaginable on TV. You have your baseball (way to go Orioles!), NFL Preseason and finally, some basketball…with an international flair.

Finally, things have come around full circle for the Dream Team, from dominating fools in the early 90’s, to getting whupped by Greece and going into a rebuilding phase. I was lucky enough to catch the 2007 version of Team USA (can’t call it a Dream anymore folks) and from the looks of their debut, it looks like a return to the old days of USA ball.

The main thing about this squad is that, well, the guys WANT to be there. Granted, the whole tourney is going down in Vegas, it’s still good to see some true NBA firepower come out and rep the stars n’ stripes.

I still can’t get over the fact that I’m watching Kobe Bryant with a “USA” on the front of his jersey. But wait, there’s more! Apparently, this Kobe dropped about 18lbs, LIKES TO PASS, and is willing to kinda’ be a co-captain along with LeBron and FIBA Mixtape Champion Carmelo Anthony.

Coach K is still heading this group of guys up and they looked a bit rusty, but trust me, once these guys gel it’s on like Donkey Kong. Everyone got pretty much the same time in this game, (except for Tyson Chandler, who I guess would be this year’s Christian Laettner). Jason Kidd, the team’s elder statesman, lead the USA charge and was in assist mode the whole night, setting up the offense and letting guys like ‘Bron and ‘Melo express their creativity. Dwight Howard (12pts, 8rebs) was still Magically Delicious down in the post as the outmatched Venezuelans had more then their fill of Howard and Stoudemire (16pts) in the lane.

When the leading scorer/ leader of your team is an ACC sophomore, chances are, you’re in big trouble buddy, as the Maryland Terps’ Greivis Vasquez (12pts, 50% from three) played floor general for the Venezuelans.

But for Team USA, everyone got into the act and played their individual roles to a tee, with Redd (17pts) and Miller (10pts) shooting the lights out, while LeBron and Melo bent, stapled, melted and destroyed the Venezuelan defense, eventually putting on an impromptu dunk contest. Chauncey Billups, who didn’t do too much stat wise, gives the backcourt a different look as they’ll need a bigger, quicker point guard down the road. Next up will be a Tim Duncan-less Virgin Islands squad, who feature some NCAA talent but should be an easy win for us.

Before I go, did anyone peep the coach of Mexico’s team? That’s right, its Mr. “40 minutes of Hell” himself, Nolan Richardson, who’s team got the win in their first game.


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