So this is it. It’s now just a little under 24 hours before the game that should be the heart of Team USA’s motivation takes place: a rematch with Greece, the team that beat the US squad in the FIBA World Championship semis, and officially made it clear that the Dream Team glory days were gone for good. The team assembled for those FIBA games was a constructed team, one built to best compete against the international brand of basketball, one built to rebound from the bronze medal finish in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Greece showed that the building was unstable – it had flaws in its architecture.
Tomorrow morning is the chance for a small salvation. It’s the game that DWade, LeBron, and Melo have been replaying over and over since that 101-95 loss.
And how did Team USA prepare for the game? By looking lackluster against Angola, that’s how.
When the biggest factor in the success of the team over the past 4 years has been its motivation and intensity, the leisurely stroll of a win over the Angolans has to make all fans of Tea, USA at least a little bit nervous. Sure, it’s not as if Angola is an international power (“Angola’s only aim was to lose to the Americans by a margin of less than 40 points…”), but the last few USA National teams have shown that it’s no longer possible to turn the proverbial “it” on and off at will against the current world competition.
Tomorrow morning’s game (8am EST on USA or the NBC HD basketball channel) will come down to a battle of style – which team will be able to impose theirs on the game?
Greece’s best chance to win is by keeping the USA greyhound mentality at bay by dictating a half court offensive tempo, minimizing turnovers, and packing it in on D to force outside shots and limit offensive rebounds (remember when I said that no having Tyson Chandler’s rebounding presence may come back to bite Colangelo in the ass?).
If USA is able to force turnovers and play fast break basketball, the game will in essence be theirs. Greece may hang with them a little better than China and Angola, but if the tempo is fast, USA will inevitably space out some form of a lead early in the second quarter, as they did against both China and Angola.
But the deciding factor in which team imposes its style on the game will be determined by how hungry Team USA is, from the opening tip to closing horn.
For their motivation is the only way they will be able to take the first step in suppressing that gnawing feeling in all of their stomachs that is redemption.
Tags: Angola, Beijing Olympics, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, China, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Coach K, Deron Williams, Dream Team, Dwight Howard, Dywane Wade, Greece, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince, Team USA Men's Basketball