This was their first real test in these 2008 Olympics, against the team that shocked them in Japan in 2006 and gave USA Basketball a real wake-up call. By defeating the US two years ago, it seems that the Greeks woke a sleeping dragon.
The first five minutes were touchy. The Greeks defense sagged in the middle, and Team USA was unable to find it's mid-range shot. Offensively, the Greeks had the pick-n-roll working nicely with, and Jason Kidd and Dwight Howard picked up early fouls. Sofo came in got some early baskets against Bosh. Greece led 13-9. And there end the highlights for Greece.
From the time that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade entered the game for the US, the defense became suffocating and the game changed. Wade had six steals, and many deflections, and the rest of the team fed off of his energy. His alley-oop to Kobe, while falling out of bounds, is a highlight for the ages. That play was initiated by one of his steals. Wade drove right into the heart of the Greek defense time and again, breaking them down and getting easy baskets for his teammates. He finsished with 17 pts. and 5 assists.
Bosh did a great job staying in front of the Greek guards on the S/R. He rebounded very well and finished strong. He had a team high 18 points. Team USA had a huge 2nd Qtr, outscoring Greece 31-16 (these are 10 minute quarters).
Kobe had 18 points on 7-14 shooting. Still seems a bit out of the flow offensively, just like with the Lakers. After missing his first two 3PAs, he started shooting them from NBA range, which is a few feet behind the International line. This seemed to help him. He did a very nice job defensively on the Greek guards, who really weren't a factor in the game.
LeBron James was too much to handle for Greece on both ends of the floor. James posted 13 pts, 6 rebs, and 6 assists. The thing that sets LeBron apart is his speed. He is able to cover a lot of ground quickly. Carmelo did a great job rebounding and played very physical down low against what was supposed to be a physical Greek front line.
The PG play for team USA was very solid. Paul and Williams did a fine job of running the offense, but the majority of US scoring comes via the fast-break, and the fast-break comes via the great defense. Greece was completely overwhelmed by our athleticism and activity. As a team, the US had 14 steals and held the Greeks to 41% shooting. We also assisted on 23 of our 36 FG's, a solid number.
Spain is next. 7am Saturday. We should all be able to watch. I have not been impressed with the Spanish game, or the International game for that matter. When we send our best, the Americans are just too much for the rest of the world. As long as they remain focused and committed on defense, I think they should be able to bring home the Gold.
UPDATE: I rewatched the game this afternoon here. I encourage everyone to do so. It is great fun.
Anyhow, I wanted to take the time to say more about the game. Kobe played great, especially in the 3rd quarter. He was unselfish with the passing and was hitting his shots. I cut him short in my analysis above.
Also, the Greek team is very good. I don't think I gave them enough credit. They just play at a much slower pace, and are not athletic like the U.S. But they are quite skilled.
Intimidation played a big part in this one. At some point the U.S. get into their heads. Little things. At one point in the game a Greek player went to help DWade up from the floor. Wade just glared at him and picked himself up. On the webcast a bit of trash talking can be heard from the U.S.
I like the job Coach K is doing. He basically keeps to his seat and lets his stars play the game. He is the anti-MDSr.