Day one is in the books and Team USA still unbeaten – this is the good news for Team USA I guess. After reading from the great guys in US blogging, I feel I am not alone with that. Team China was fighting much harder and caused much more problems than Team USA thought. Why do I mention this within a post called “European review”? Let’s be honest – European teams and fans want to beat Team USA and send out a message. While the message a few years a go was “Hey we are here too” now it sounds more like “Team USA – WE play better team basketball and want to throw you off your throne”.
So what about those European Teams? Team Russia made it pretty clear with a 71-49 victory over Iran that they want to be one of those teams to beat Team USA – especially JR Holden with 19 points and Andrei Kirilenko with 15 points.
Talking about sending out messages: Germany beat Angola, Team USA’s next opponent on Tuesday, 95-66 with three guys stepping up: Euroleague newcomer Jan-Hendrik Jagla (10), Dirk Nowitzki (23) and American-German Chris Kaman (23). This was a must win for team Germany, if they want to qualify for the medal round.
Another team, that sent out a strong message: Team Croatia. With Euroleague players like Roko Ukic (now a Toronto Raptor), Davor Kus, Zoran Planinic, Marko Popovic and Marko Tomas, Europeans already knew what to expect in their first game against Australia. Up by us much as 30 points the game ended 97-82, against an Australian team that held up pretty well against Team USA.
Let’s get to the big games: Spain vs. Greece and Lithuania vs. Argentina, teams that have been heavily favored by some experts in the fight against Team USA. Considering this, it was pretty surprising to see a blow out game of Spain against Greece by as much as 15 points (81-66). Topscorer of the game: Rudy Fernandez, the new Portland Trailblazer with 16 points.
With the the games being pretty easy wins for each team, Team Lithuania had to fight for their win against Argentina (79-75) – another team that was named as a team to beat the US of A.
Watching Team USA vs. China this morning was fun. I did like the LeBron blocks (this is just mean, I understand why Olympiakos wants him in Athens – just to do THAT to each player of Panathinaikos), but it also revealed to some US commentators that there might be a bigger chance that the US will not go home with the gold medal in Beijing. I still got Team USA on top of my list, but I can’t wait for the game of Spain vs. Team USA. I am sure it will be more exciting than Team USA destroying Angola on Tuesday.
A special “THANKS” to the guys over at FIBA.com for letting us use this picture. Thanks Nic!