USA Basketball finished its tuneups for the FIBA World Championship with today’s 87-59 socking of Greece in Athens. Unlike the close call with Spain, the Americans were never threatened in their last game before heading for Turkey.
But what exactly can Team USA take from its effort against a Greek squad playing it close to the vest and without any current NBA players? Greece, one of the favorites going into the Worlds, was determined to show little against a potential medal foe. The Greeks rested several top players, including “Baby Shaq,” Sofoklis Schortsanitis.
Still, some notables for USA Basketball:
- The starting lineup had Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt, with Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Lamar Odom up front.
- Durant continues to prove that no one, here or abroad, can stop the 21-year-old stud. He shook off a slow start and scored at will.
- The U.S. team’s halfcourt defense was impressive. Maybe that had a lot to do with Greece’s vanilla gameplan, but the United States’ last exhibition opponent struggled to get easy looks throughout the game.
- Rose ran the team seamlessly during his efficient stint. The point guard made his first five shots, scored 13 and was named Player of the Game.
- Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 18, showing the ability to knock down jumpers and the strength to get to the rim.
- Danny Granger saw action after not playing in the one-point win over Spain. All 12 players ended up getting into the blowout.
The broadcast also had its interesting moments. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla suggested, not so subtly, that the American team was better off without Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. USA Basketball announced Tuesday that Rondo was withdrawing to attend to personal business.
Fraschilla mentioned that Rondo’s stubbornness wouldn’t mesh well with team chemistry and Mike Krzyzewski. Fraschilla went on to say Rondo’s departure was “addition by subtraction” and would benefit the team’s other guards.
The Worlds begin Saturday with Team USA opening against Croatia. The tournament runs through Sept. 12.