Olympics: USA basketball 92, Greece 69
By Brian Mahoney
BEIJING ó It’s official now. This is NOT Japan and the 2006 World Championships, not to mention Athens and the 2004 Olympics.
This is Beijing and the 2008 Olympics, and the U.S. is back in men’s basketball.
These Americans, who looked so lost two years ago at the World Championship in Japan, appear to have found their Olympic way in China.
Batting away balls or swatting shots on seemingly every possession late in the second quarter, the Americans broke open a close game and went on to a 92-69 victory Thursday night to clinch a spot in the medal round.
“We played like we wanted to win. We played together,” U.S. guard Dwyane Wade said. “We were very aware of their offensive sets, we were very aware of their personnel and we played like that. So we were kind of a step in front of what they wanted to do because we kind of knew everything already.”
The Americans were also able to find the range on jump shots when the Greeks went to a zone defense to slow them down. Kobe Bryant, who entered the game shooting just 37 percent in the first two games, was 7-for-14 from the field and finished with 18 points.
Chris Bosh also had 18 points, Wade added 17 and LeBron James had 13 for the United States (3-0), which moves on to a matchup of Group B unbeatens Saturday night against world champion Spain. The winner will earn the group’s top seed for the quarterfinals.
Greece stunned the Americans two years ago in the semifinals of the 2006 world championships, shredding the U.S. defense for 63 percent shooting with clinical execution of its pick-and-roll offense in a 101-95 victory.
This time, the Greeks hit just 41.3 percent (26-for-63) from the field and just 4-for-18, 22 percent, from 3-point range.