So the USA-Britain meeting in yesterday’s friendly turned out to be something described with words like “blowout,” “thrash,” “humiliate” and “eviscerate.” The last lead Team Britain had in the Red-White-and-Blues’ 118-78 win in Manchester was at 2-0, and the Brits resumed a discouraging tendency from the Eurobasket 2011 tournament, mentally lapsing and collapsing in head coach Chris Finch’s estimation, to be outscored 63-39 in the second 20 minutes.
Good news for Britain: Luol Deng led all scorers with 25 points; Pops Mensah-Bonsu was good for 12 points and nine rebounds, but the pair accounted for 11 total turnovers. The sole other double-digit scorer was Andrew Lawrence, who contributed 11 in six minutes of garbage time.
Among the key statistical contributors for Team USA were Deron Williams (19 points, five assists, two steals), Carmelo Anthony (19 points, two steals), Lebron James (16 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Russell Westbrook (15 points, nine rebounds). All 12 members of the Team USA squad played, with starter Tyson Chandler at bottom with 10 minutes of court time.
On another note … From the In Case You Missed It Department: Prior to the game, the UK-based Telegraph posted an interview with stalwart Team Britain guy Pops Mensah-Bonsu. The effusive and enthusiastic Pops went into the game positively, philosophizing that “The USA are obviously superior to everybody else in the world game but they can only play five guys on the court at any one time … They tie their shoes the same way as us, they pull their trousers on the same way, they bleed just like we do and they go to the bathroom just like we have to. As a sportsman and opponent, you have to look at them as just another five guys.”
Hmmm, maybe not.
As for his next season at the pro level, Mensah-Bonsu would like to stay with Beşiktaş JK, but this may prove difficult with the club’s current sponsorship/financial issues. As optimistic as he is about British basketball, Pops doesn’t figure his chances of playing NBA ball are too high after five NBA contracts with four different teams.
“I am very competitive and perhaps I chased it too hard in the NBA. Also it might be cliché, but a lot of it is political in the NBA. I just couldn’t settle for being second best and that’s why I sometimes didn’t last the whole season with clubs. I couldn’t settle for being the 15th man in the squad. It was a role I was neither willing, nor experienced enough, to play.”
Each team has a pair of friendlies remaining before the London Games. Team Britain goes to Belgium to play African champions Tunisia on Saturday (5pm CET, 11am EST) and the hosts on Sunday (3pm CET, 9am EST).
Team USA will play Argentina on Sunday night (9.30pm CET, 3.30pm EST) followed by Spain next Tuesday night (10.30pm CET, 4.30pm EST) in a tournament celebrating 20 years of basketball since the Dream Team stomped through Barcelona. (Incidentally, these are two of three teams that the US must watch out for in the Olympics, according to D-Will.)
All games can be seen in online streaming as part of the FIBA TV “Road to London” package.