I'm not sure how many people we're going to have on a Wednesday morning at 9 AM for an international friendly, but I have to say I'm just excited to watch a game without having to worry about how it's impacting Eric Gordon's chances of making the team. When he was in the game, I was on pins and needles hoping he played well, dreading any turnover or missed shot. When he was on the bench, I worried that it was a sign that he was not making the cut. Today, I can just watch basketball. What a relief.
This Greece team, despite an absence of household names to NBA fans, is one of the top teams in the world, and a real contender in this tournament. In contrast to many of the other teams, they also have pretty much all of their horses at this tournament, with the notable exception of Theo Papaloukas. But the still have Diamantidis and former Rocket Spanoulis at the guards, making up one of the better backcourts in the tournament. And of course their bigs are pretty good too, with Bourousis and near-Clipper Sofoklis Schortsanitis. They also have one of the more skilled wing players in international ball in Printezis, whose game looks suspicously ready for the NBA.
In 2006 Team USA lost to Greece when their defensive pressure was unable to force the veteran Greek guards into turnovers, and the game became a half court affair. In the half court, Greece's pick and roll exposed the US time and again, while Team USA struggled to execute their own half court sets. It was a recipe for disaster then, and it remains one now. This being a friendly, I doubt that Greece will go to a steady diet of pick and roll, but I could be wrong.
Team Hellas has been killing people in the pre-tournament warmups (almost literally, and Sofo ever caught up to Krstic in the brawl that ended their last game). That game against Serbia was close, but they also have big wins over Russia, Croatia, Germany and Canada (123-49 in that one, youch). And the crowd in Athens will be MUCH more hostile than the one in Madrid. Another great test for Team USA.