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Worldwide media watches U.S. and says 'Wow' - Insider
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Worldwide media watches U.S. and says 'Wow'
By Chris Sheridan
SAITAMA, Japan -- Media from all over the globe are covering the World Championship, and many of them got their initial first-hand look Sunday at the team in red, white and blue.
With only a few exceptions, they're expecting Team USA to win the gold medal. Yes, even the Spaniards and Argentines.
Following the Americans' 113-73 thrashing of Australia on Sunday, I talked to folks from all corners of the earth to get their impressions and predictions of what's in store over the next several days as this tournament winds down.
Everyone was asked the same question: Do you think Team USA will win the gold medal, and why?
Here are their answers (many respondents apologized for their broken English):
Dennis Huang, NBA Inside Stuff, China: "There are only three teams that can give the USA a real challenge: Spain, Argentina and Italy, though they're retired. Unfortunately, Spain and Argentina will meet before the finals."
Achileas Karalis, Athletici Macedoneas newspaper, northern Greece: "We know everything about the U.S. team. We know that there are too many good players from the NBA, they are famous all over the world. In Greece, our team is the European champion, and we are waiting to see the Greek team against the U.S. It will be good game. All over the world, they want to see the U.S. in first place because in Indianapolis the Serbian team won the gold medal."
Mourelis Staninatis, MetroSport newspaper, Thessolaniki, Greece: "I think USA is one of the best in the World Championship. They have a great coach who knows how to play defense and this is most important for the USA right now. Until now the games were easy for them. If they play good defense against the other teams like Spain or Argentina or Greece, they have the most possibility to win the gold medal. "
Boyc Ziga, Slovenian Press Agency, Slovenia: "I am not so much expert, but I think they are playing very nice. I saw the U.S. team playing in Athens, and there were too many big stars on that team. I think it was the same with our team, because we had five NBA players on our team. Basketball is played five guys on each side, so it's not so individual. Comparing this to the Athens Games, I think this team can go much further."
Pedro Monteiro, Angola News Agency, Angola: "The USA team are the best of the tournament and will win this championship. They have a level that is better than the last U.S. team in Indianapolis in 2002. They are a team, a real team, not individuals. They play together, better than before. But Argentina and Spain are also good teams."
Zoran Radovic, FIBA.com, Serbia: "I think they are the favorites, but I think it will be quite different in the semifinal against Greece and the final possibly against Argentina or Spain, It will be a big challenge for the U.S., but I still think they are the favorites."
Robert Manthei, TV New Zealand Ltd: "Well, if they play like that again, they could win. But the big matchup will be with Argentina. But this is the best USA team I've seen. I saw them in Indianapolis and they were embarrassing. I saw them in the Olympics and they couldn't shoot. But they've selected the team that can win this tournament. They're young, they're keying, they're playing well together, and from what I've just seen here they're probably the most talented and best team here. But don't look past Argentina. They've been together for many years, they play the international game comprehensively, almost as well as it can be played, and they emphasize the strength maybe to knock some of the United States players around. And maybe down the stretch when USA players are used to getting timeout after timeout, sometimes they don't know what to do with the ball when the clock keeps running, and the Argentinians do. So it will be a fantastic matchup, but I like the look of this USA team. They are the real deal, and selecting Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski was a brilliant move."
Luca Chiabotti, Gazetto Dello Sport, Milan, Italy: "I think yes, but I think the team has had a lot of easy games. The only tough game was Italy up to now, and the next one [against Germany] will be easy probably. So I'd like to see what they do when the opponent will be very tough, like the semifinal and the final, if the team is ready to play and step up mentally. I think Argentina and Greece will be ready to play. If USA plays with the right mentality and focus, they'll win. But I think they were not tested yet in this championship."
Pietro Guerrini, Tuttosport, Turin, Italy: "I think they will win, but I think the most important games will be against Argentina, Greece and Spain, teams that can play better defense than the opponents the U.S. has faced up to now. I think they are a lot better than the last two or three USA teams. They have a better approach, a better defense, they know better the opponents, they prepare the game. So they have the right way to face this kind of competition, and they have five players that are the best in the world. Dwyane Wade is fantastic, I think Carmelo Anthony may be better in FIBA competition than in NBA competition. The only problem I think is interpretation of the rules in traveling. It depends on FIBA, will they play with NBA or FIBA rules? Because we see the U.S. players, when they start dribbling, they move one foot more than European or Australian players."
Olivier Pheulpin, L'Equipe, France (based in San Antonio): "I think they will win, but I was saying that before that [Australia] game, because they finally seem to get it. You know, defensively, offensively, you have a team there, and team is the key word. You have the best athletes, the best players. Suddenly you have a team. I used to believe Bowen was good, but Shane [Battier] is as good as he is, and he's shooting the ball so nicely. But again, you haven't played any of the good teams. You only have to win two games to win the championship. That's the only thing that bothers me about the whole championship: The U.S. will only be tested twice. If you win those two, you're the world champion. But that's the way it is."
Alain Moire, Ouest France newspaper: "It is the most physical team around, and all around it has great players. It's terrible to play against a U.S. team, they explode after 20 minutes, and I think the Americans are the favorites of the world championship."
Djordje Matic, DSL Sport newspaper, Belgrade, Serbia: "I don't think so. It's real tough, the Spanish and the Greeks. They play a different kind of basketball. They think only of themselves."
Lucy Nicholson, photographer, Reuters news agency, London, England (based in Los Angeles): "I think they'll win just because their attitude is way better than it's ever been, and they're taking it way more seriously, playing as a team and fighting hard for four quarters. They just seem significantly better than every team they've played."
Dave Hueston, Kyodo News, Tokyo: "Yeah, I think they'll win, mainly because their defense is so dominant. No one plays as physically hard as them for 40 minutes, and for that reason they'll take the title."
Takashi Aoki, Hoop Japan magazine (based in Detroit): "They'll win. They have enough shooters. They can break a zone defense, and they have better chemistry. Coach K gave them freedom, and that's a good thing. If they struggle, they play one-on-one and they can score or get fouled and make free throws."
Aleksander Chernykh, basketball.ru, Russia: "I think Team USA is not such a great favorite as it seems when we looked at the rosters before the tournament. The game against Italy showed the team has flaws. Whoever it plays in the final, to prognosticate that game is like playing paper, rock and scissors because Argentina and Spain look solid, but they also have their flaws. Spain didn't look so confident playing against the tough Serbian defense, and the Serbs played really rough. Pau Gasol looked disgruntled at halftime. I would say it's 50-50 they win or lose."
Mhamed Rewan, Al Araya newspaper, Qatar: "I think it is very strong team. Yes, I think they win. Argentina is good team. Maybe Argentina will win."
Demitrios Chrysanthis, SportDay newspaper, Athens, Greece: "I think they have strong chances to win tournament, but I'm not sure. It's not like 10 years before when Dream Team was unbeatable. I think there are some teams that can beat the U.S. team, but I think still they are the strongest contender. I saw this team for the first time today, and I saw they like to play in one-on-one situations. I saw they didn't face [any] traps, no zone defense, nothing like that. Greeks play more complicated basketball. This is a strong weapon for Greece. If the United States cannot find some solutions against this defense, they will have some problems. But still, the United States is the better team and the favorite team for winning a game like that. It's a matter of how quick will they find solutions against the Greek team "
Roberto Alvarez, Paes newspaper, Spain: "I think the USA team is the team that has the most chance to win. The Spanish team, I think it's possible arrives at the final, or Argentinian team also, and [either can] make it very, very difficult for U.S. team, because the play in FIBA basket is a little bit different than NBA. And I think most styles of NBA players have problems [playing FIBA rules]. But I think that finally the US team is the favorite."
Pablo Borsutzky, FIBA,com and Rock and Pop FM Radio, Argentina: "It's the strongest team here at the World Cup, it has very nice players, and they are hungry to win this medal. They have the strength to win the championship. It will be a battle, and I am from Argentina, but I think they have to win because they have a great team. They will face nice matches against Spain and Argentina, so it will be hard for USA, but I think they will win."
Ruben Campaniello, Agiencia Telem news agency, Buenos Aires, Argentina: "The US team will win it because they have the players, a great coach. They demonstrated today against Australia they have a very nice team to win the gold medal."