Kobe Bryant was hanging around in New York last week as part of the World Basketball Festival festivities and, upon praising Team Spain, was dutifully quoted by Spain-based sports media outlet Sport.es.
“When it comes to really tough opponents,” said Bryant, “no doubt, Spain is the team.”
Kobe has seemed somewhat positive about this year’s edition of Team USA and philosophized to reporters that, if they take care of fundamentals, they’ll be all right. “The formula for winning is always the same: defense and rebounding. No matter where you play, rebounding and defense gives you the win. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing against aliens from Mars.”
In terms of the actual games closing the World Basketball Festival, Team USA demonstrated a remarkable arsenal of weaponry in taking out France, 86-55. (This just ain’t France’s year in international sport, is it? An early bouncing for Les Bleus and 2010 will go down as Bizarro 1998.)
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Starter Chauncey Billups was named “Player of the Game” in the rout and went for 17. Rudy Gay had 19 off the bench and Kevin Durant contributed 14.
Team USA has again jettisoned JaVale McGee and, as has been recently suspected, will be going to the 2010 FIBA World Championship with just one true center in Tyson Chandler. Eric Gordon is expected to be the last cut from the 13-man roster, which currently includes Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets); Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies); Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers); Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers); Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics); and Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls).
Team USA has three more warmups scheduled before the Turkey games tip off: against Lithuania on August 21, at Spain on August 22, and at Greece on August 25.
In yesterday’s late game, Carlos Arroyo again led Team Puerto Rico to victory, scoring 16 in a 92-76 win over China.
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