Olympics Hoops: USA dominates Angola
Paced by a balanced scoring attack that saw Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) score a team leading 15 points in just 13 minutes, unlike its first four preliminary round games that went down to the wire, the U.S. (3-2) made sure there was no suspense in its game against Angola (0-5) as it rolled to an 89-53 dominating victory Monday afternoon in Athens. The win, which saw Angola held to the third lowest point total ever against a USA Basketball Senior Team, capped preliminary play and left the U.S. owning a 3-2 overall record.
Just who the USA faces in the medal round quarterfinals will not be determined until after the final preliminary game, Puerto Rico versus Greece, is completed.
If Puerto Rico earns a win then the USA will finish third in Group B and will meet the winner of the Argentina-Italy game in the Aug. 26 medal round quarterfinals. However, a win by Greece will force a three-way tie for second in Group B, and, under the FIBA tie-breaking formula, it is likely that the USA will earn the No. 4 seed and a date in the quarterfinals against No. 1 seed Spain.
In Monday's other action, Spain (5-0) remained perfect and earned the Group A No. 1 seed after fending off New Zealand (1-4) 88-84. Likewise, Lithuania (5-0) finished preliminary round play undefeated and claimed the Group B No. 1 seed after earning a 100-85 victory over Australia (1-4). Defending World Champion Serbia & Montenegro (1-4) was shocked by China (2-3) 67-66 and eliminated from advancing into the medal round quarterfinals.
In the night's final contests yet to be played, Argentina (3-1) and Italy (2-2) battle for the Group A No.2 seed, while Puerto Rico (3-1) meets host Greece (2-2) to determine the No. 2 Group B seed.
"This was a fun game because we got to play a lot of people, knowing its been hard to give a lot of guys minutes. Tonight we had an opportunity to do that and everybody played well," said Larry Brown, USA head coach. " I know Angola was banged up, and that obviously was a factor, but we had a lot of guys do some good things.
"Right after the Lithuania game we talked about it (the last three games being like a NCAA Tournament, lose and you're done), counting this game like a sub-regional game, now we're going on to the Elite Eight and hopefully get in a situation where we can win three games. I don't think it's going to be easy based on the talent and the way these teams play. But I think we're capable if we can defend better and take care of the ball."
Leading from start to finish, the U.S. grabbed a 5-0 lead. With co-captains Duncan and Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) accounting for 13 of the USA's first 15 points, the U.S. led 15-13 with 3:34 to play in the opening quarter and topped off the opening stanza by outscoring Angola 8-1 to take charge 23-14.
Adding the first 10 points of the second quarter, the lead increased quickly to 33-14 with 7:32 to go before half. The U.S. continued to push its advantage and with 5:14 left in the half the U.S. was in total command 39-17, and at halftime the lead stood at 20, 46-26.
The U.S. shot 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) in the first half and made 2-of-3 3-pointers, while Angola managed to hit just 29.4 percent (10-34 FGs), including 4-of-13 from 3-point. The taller U.S. team, spirited by nine points from Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz) and Duncan, dominated inside and outscored Angola 26-6 in the paint, and outrebounded their African opponents 29-7.
Opening the third quarter with a 14-2 offensive surge that saw Duncan account for six points, the U.S. lead expanded further to 60-28 and at the end of three the USA was up 75-39. Leading by as many as 40 points in the fourth quarter, the Americans settled for the 89-53 victory.
"From the start of this game we came out ready," Boozer stated. "We had great intensity both halves, for all 40 minutes. Everybody played and contributed very big in this win and we're getting ready for Thursday (quarterfinals)."
In addition to Duncan's scoring, the USA was aided offensively by 11 points from Boozer and LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Iverson accumulated 10 points, while Shawn Marion (Phoenix Suns), Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns) and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), finished with nine points apiece.
Claiming a 36-17 advantage on the glass, Boozer pulled in nine, Duncan added seven, while James, in addition to hitting all five of his shot attempts, passed for five assists
The U.S. finished the contest shooting 55.0 percent (33-60 FGs) and limited Angola to 31.1 percent shooting overall, including 6-for-25 from 3-point.
"The records are out the door. The best teams have come to play. You've got to win three games to get the gold. So, if our best team shows up, we can win the gold," said James.