The US basketball team started off their competition against China. The Chinese established themselves early, letting the Americans know they should not get too complacent. The teams in the Olympics are prepared and they are well coached. When a team is selected from well over a billion people, you have to respect their ability.
The US led 20-16 after the first, but the Chinese nailed a three pointer at the start of the second period. The challengers in red were serious contenders here. And they were keeping it close. As you know, the US lost in 2004 despite bringing power-house players and only managed the bronze. That loss was bitter, but it demonstrates that individual talent does not make a basketball team. One can observe this in the All-Star games. You get to see your favorite star, but typically not much of a ball game.
It looked like the energy on the Chinese team was about to wane, but then they nailed another three pointer and kept it within reach. Henry Kissinger was in attendance in body, but not in spirit; the man was clearly snoozing, not cheering. Even the elder Bush looked challenged to stay awake.
The US team started getting aggressive, but they could not sink baskets, and gave China the opportunity to catch up. China was shooting 7/11 from the perimeter. The US tried a three pointer, and missed again, netting them a catastrophic 1/10 from behind the 3 point line. You can’t do that in international basketball and not get challenged…or beaten.
They tell us that the referees can be horrendous in these games. The reason, they come from different countries and this often presents language barriers. In addition, there are subtle differentiations in the rules from nation to nation, which can lead to confusion on the court. But so far, their calls were looking as good as most US officiating, and this Chinese team was still within 2.
Kobe then reminded us what greatness is about. The US stole the ball and fed it up to Kobe against two Chinese defenders. Kobe stuffed it between the two as they looked totally helpless to stop him.
The US kept on letting the three point shooters from China nail basket after basket. While the US could only muster one 3 point shot, China had delivered 9!! That added up to 27 points of China’s 32 points.
As the US tried to come back, Kobe missed another 3, putting the Americans in a sad position. The US was 1 out of 11 outside the three-point line. They have to learn, blocking a 3 pointer by the opposing team is just as good as getting one. If you are going to depend on going to the basket to win, you cannot allow teams that focus on the 3-pointer to get shot after shot uncontested.
Yao Ming is a freak of nature. At 7’6″ he towers above the US players. One has to wonder how the Chinese, that average between 5’5″ and 5’7″ in height could deliver such a monster to the games! But there are well over a billion Chinese, so anything becomes statistically possible.
The US continued to do what they do best. Driving to the basket and drawing the foul. Lebron James nailed the basket, but missed the chance to make it a three.
Now the rebounds and drives to the basket started to pay off. The US generated a 16-3 run taking a commanding 13-point lead as the Chinese looked totally dismayed. 3 pointers aren’t going to win all by their lonesome, so perhaps the coaches for the US were right after all. Just let the Chinese have all the 3s they want, but control the rebounds and the inside and let the game come to you.
The rest of the half was rather mundane, with the US ending up by 12 at 49-37.
The Chinese love basketball, and are great fans of the US teams. The popularity of the game could result in as many as 800,000 basketball courts in the China by the end of this year, and there are still players waiting an hour or more to get into a pickup game. They aren’t our equal in basketball yet, but their numbers are scary.
The US drew first blood in the second period as Kobe faked a 3 and drove to the basket. He had China flatfooted on that move and the US went up by 14.
The US domination was on the 2. They were only one for thirteen outside the 3 point line. In reality though, if you control the inside, you control the game. That was apparently the US strategy, and heaven forbid they start hitting a few of those 3s.
The US started getting lazy in the 3rd letting the Chinese get multiple offensive rebounds, but the Chinese started missing their shots. Missed shot after missed shot by the Chinese led to a 16 point lead for the US, a cushion that was not going to be overcome.
The US was demonstrating they were unselfish here. They looked like a team playing tenacious defense, wearing China down. Fast line changes and US speed were starting to make the Chinese team look a bit foolish. And then, James hit a 3 to take the US up 18.
It appeared that, as the game went on, China was getting more and more tired as the US team was just warming up. Maybe the US should play a pick-up game to warm up before the actual game!! They weren’t even looking slightly fatigued after almost three periods, so their strength is in their stamina and heart.
The Chinese started fouling ugly and the US started hitting free throw after free throw. Chris Bosh was fouled, but only put down one out of two. Even with that the US led by 21. And the Chinese started to get humiliated. Steals, easy baskets, and the US started to show that the Chinese were dramatically over-matched. US by 24.
Another steal by Wade that leads to an easy stuff and the US margin expands to 26! The Chinese could not find the basket anymore. This game belonged to the US the rest of the way.
The 4th was no different, calling it play by play would just take up unnecessary space. The Chinese were humiliated 101-68. Over a 40 point margin!! The US all-star squad demonstrated that the criticism of their ability to play as a team is vastly overdone. They are a team and hopefully US Champions on their way to the GOLD!