Team USA vs. Spain

, Thursday, August 26, 2004 at 9:15 AM Comments (0)

Its time to get it started again commercial free by Hummer on the USA network, at 7:30 am EST here stateside. Should be a good one this morning, if by good I really mean potential blowout.

Spain was undefeated in Pool Play (5-0). Spain has won 12 consecutive International Games and are regarded as the best defensive international team, which bodes really well for our chances with the marksmanship of our outside shooters. Sages just said that Larry got the team to watch “Miracle”…since when does the Dream Team need a miracle. And why does every US team at the Olympics have to watch “Miracle”? It’s a great movie no doubt, great story obviously. I loved it, my top sports movie of all time, but I’m sick of hearing about every team watching it. Phelps and his 4×200 Free Relay Team before they beat the Australians, the Women’s Gymnastics Team, The Nightmare, and on and on and on. At least Misty May and Kerri Walsh didn’t feel the need to watch it because they knew they were going to win. It’s getting to be ridiculous. I’m as American as the next guy and as stated, love the movie, but if I hear about it one more time, I might start pulling for the Russians to win the Medal Count.

1st Quarter…Spain comes out in the man to man…are you serious?!? TD with a lay-up. TD with a blocked shot. TD with a lay-up and one. The Nightmare is playing a 2-3 zone…what?!? Apparently Spain is the worst shooting Euro team, well i guess LB wants to find out for himself. Alright, back to reality, Spain in now in 2-1-2 with your boy and mine Pau Gasol in the middle. The 1 for Spain is Juan Carlos Navarro, he utilizes the extra step in international play and makes a lay-up, and one. Navarro was drafted by the Bullets back when Dougie was coaching them, they should sign him up quick, they could use him. Gasol with a facial on Odom. RJ knocked down a 3, “due to hard work” says Doug Collins. RJ with back to back 3’s, I don’t know who this RJ guy is but what did he do with the real RJ. The RJ that can’t shoot, can’t defend, and got lazy now that he got his max contract. Gasol with a follow dunk. Great, Boozer is in for Duncan after Duncan picks up a foul and Gasol immediately scores on him. AI for three. At this point I want to start a poll for worst Dream Teamer of all time…but before I could get going, JC Navarro drained a three…the Bullets really need him. Further diverting me from the subject at hand is the fact that Doug Collins can’t count. Duncan did not go to the bench with one foul but two. Gold medal..see…you…later. Starbury actually hit a three and the US is up 5, 4-5 from the promise land, no chance they keep this going, and if they don’t, I don’t like their chances. Starbury with a lay-up off the AI steal. Spain Lay-up and they are back in the Man to Man. Spain steal, Gasol leads the break delivers a textbook bounce pass in a three on two transition opportunity and how do you say…Three Point Game! Gasol fouled after the US misses a shot, PUT TWO MORE ON THE BOARD…YES!!! Wade with a charge. JC Navarro for another three and Spain takes the lead by 2. Quick break in the action so as far as the worst Dream Teamer of all time, I think we need to keep it to just Olympians because nobody really cares about the World Championships. My top 5 are Christian Laettner, Starbury, Emeka Okafor, Melo for his constant complaining, and the great Carlos Boozer, in no particular order. But the quarter comes to an end, with the score tied at 25 a piece and I would guess that you could say Spain didn’t play to their potential. Unfortunately, they probably realize that. The Nightmare still hasn’t reached their potential and we are in the medal round now.

2nd Quarter…Before we get it started again I need to say this…I can already see Pau Gasol going Dirk on us. On cue, Gasol with a nice post move and a lay-up. Then, Marion re-ties it with a follow dunk. Maybe I need to take Starbury off the list simply for his performance in this game, assuming we win, because the man just knocked down another from the promise land and is thus far 2-2. I think Stu Scott would say in order to keep my rep up, you know I gotta step up, but Stu Scott is an idiot. Lamar Odom with a nice and one play, due to a wonderful moving screen set by Shawn Marion. D. Wade with the steal and lay-up, The Nightmare up 8, however if there is one thing we have learned, its that no lead is safe for The Nightmare. Every time I see D. Wade, and I’m not sure about you, but I get this image of Shaq in Miami saying, “Dame Pesos” (Translation: Give me Money). Then in his deep Shaq voice stating, “This is D. Wade’s team I don’t want any questions about it.” Right. Odom is wearing a Breathe Right strip on his nose, no words can describe it. Gasol with 2 from the charity stripe and we are back to a six point game. Marion with a jumper, back to an 8 point game. Amare Stoudamire is in the game precipitating a run by Espana, and Gasol With a huge facial on Marion and Stoudamire…Wow!!! I am jumping up and down with visions of Bill Walton in my head screaming “Throw it down big man! Throw it down!” Down to a three point game. I think I need to add Amare Stoudamire to my list of worst Dream Teamers ever and this team now has 5 out of six. Gasol with a huge rejection on Marion! Gasol is taking over and The Nightmare is beginning to feel the absence of TD. Side note, Roberto Duenas is in the game for Espana and he is the hairiest man ever. Gasol with 2 free throws and it is now a one point game. After a D. Wade miss from three Gasol catches an oop, throws it down, and now Spain has a one point lead. After Spain made one of two from the stripe to tie, Boozer made a follow, then D. Wade made a steal and transition lay-up to take the lead. Stoudamire, in a valiant attempt to redeem himself, throws one down, 4 point game. But, Stoudamire bricks the free throw on the and one. 19 year old Rudy Fernandez cans one from the promise land at the buzzer, score at the half 44 to 43 and The Nightmare is walking on egg shells. Halftime stats for the Nightmare 51% from the field, 5 of 10 from the promise land which is a definite statistical anomaly, 5 turnovers, yet they are only up five. Indeed this was a laudable performance especially without TD in the game after the four and a half minute mark in the first quarter. However, with our propensity to go cold, not get the ball to TD, to forget how to play defense, and penchant for committing innumerable other insidious mishaps, this guy is a bit concerned.
It’s halftime and Lamps is talking about the US women’s soccer gold medal game upcoming this afternoon. I think that the network’s policy is to approach each game with a bit more trepidation. Lamps is talking about the excitement for the upcoming soccer game, I know that this guy right here, and probably everyone else watching this game with the possible exception of Nomar Hamm could care less about about the Women’s soccer team. Again I’m yearning for Chuck, The Jet, and EJ in the studio. If I can’t get that, maybe the Greeks could do a halftime show with Sages modeling his blazers with the NBC polo on, almost anything would be more exciting than this. I mean they could even do a pseudo-PTI with (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) three time best selling author Skip Bayless and Steven “It’s just the way I talk” A. Smith. Again, this game, I think I can again hear Steven A. all the way from Athens, in a situation that seems to be recurrent, at normal volume saying, “Spain may have Pau Gasol and be down one, HOWEVER, we have AI and that’s all I have to say Skip.” Steven A. I’m not sure if Skip can hear you at the PTI studios, but I hear you loud and clear.

3rd quarter…Odom can’t handle Gasol, Spain up one, Gasol with 20 points in 21 minutes thus far. Starbury with a three and takes us to a 4 point lead. Our announcers, Michael Jordan’s first coach in The Association and whoever the other guy is, have now resorted to complaining about the officiating. Could you imagine the announcers complaining about the officiating when we had a real Dream Team on the floor. Starbury with another from the promise land, could Starbury lead this team to a victory? Don’t blame me for skepticism. Gasol just drew the third on TD. RJ also has three fouls, but I think that may be a net gain for The Nightmare. Boozer is in…not good, and The Nightmare is in a zone to protect Duncan. Boozer with a lay-up to get it to an eight-point lead and the potential to push it to the largest of the game, but I’m a bit reluctant to simply put it on the board. Since, Duncan has 3 fouls, I would sum up our current standing in this game in one word, precarious. And Boozer misses the free throw, shocker, I know, The Nightmare is 5-9 from the charity stripe. Spain with one from the promise land. Starbury drains a pull up. Spain with a tip in and one on a Starbury foul, his third. Starbury with a pull up three and it drops, The Nightmare up 7. Gasol with a three point play as he continues to own Lamar Odom. Now we are perpetually sending Spain to the charity stripe…not good. JC Navarro knocks down 2 from the charity stripe, then goes coast to coast and we have a tie game. AI knocks down a jumper to regain the lead. Boozer with a follow, The Nightmare back up four. The game is moving fast and furious now. AI from the promise land; The Nightmare is now 9-16…the question now is will this aberrant shooting continue? If it doesn’t, we are in trouble. Gasol with 2 more from the charity stripe because Odom still cannot guard him LB. Melo is in the game…what is LB thinking? We are in a close game, he and Emeka are our victory cigars. Odom one of two from the free throw line; 6-11 as a team. Odom has 4 fouls for obvious reasons. Melo for three to close the quarter! Seven point lead 74-67! I guess LB knew what he was doing, but then again who am I to question Tony Kornheiser’s anointed greatest coach of all time. Can we hold on?

4th Quarter…Before we open, we are seeing an AI interview, this made waking up worth it. Spain opens with a lay-up to take it down to five. JC Navarro parts the defense like the Red Sea, 3 point game. AI drains another three, lead back to seven. Doug uses another of his catch phrases, “It’s getting a little chippy here,” after two bad calls against Spain and a malicious take down on AI. It has taken 6 games but I knew it was coming. AI one of two from the stripe, 5 point lead, we are 7-13 from the line. Well, its better than 50 percent. Spain has forgotten who Pau Gasol is, this is a critical error. Odom fouls out, but I don’t think that matters too much. TD is now on Gasol. Spain just dropped a bomb on from the promise land and Duncan committed foul away from the ball, his 4th. Spain now gets the ball back on the away from the ball foul. Spain had 3 opportunities from the promise land to make it 6 point play, but failed on all attempts and The Nightmare remains up four. Boozer with a tip to put them up 6. Rudy Fernandez cuts it to four. Starbury from the promise land again takes it to a seven point lead and he now has 24. The game is at a frenetic pace, The Nightmare is up 9, its largest lead of the game. They are 11-22 thus far from the promise land in this game. After 5 games, they were 10-62. Starbury himself is 6-9. With 3:18 to go and a lack of three point shooting (5-19 thus far) for Espana, according to Dougie, will this be enough? Boozer jumper 11 point game, then Espana banks a trey from straight on. The impossible just occurred, the US made 2 free throws, of course, it was Starbury who made them. Espana from the promise land after a turnover, 5 point game. Starbury over Gasol, he has 28. Doug is talking about how we have taken in up a notch this game, making an analogy from the regular season to the playoffs. Hey Doug, it’s not like we have a lot of superstars who really take over in the playoffs aside from TD and AI. Gasol only has 2 points in the quarter, clearly Spain has made a dreadful error. The last 43 seconds are now going to take 43 minutes whereas Spain is going to foul us on every possession. But amazingly, we are making them down the stretch and are maintaining a nine point lead. AI with 2 more and its an eleven point lead. Despite Pau Gasol’s best efforts, Spain is going to lose. I can’t help but feel bad for them after their undefeated record in Pool Play and this loss means they don’t even qualify for the World Championships. The crowd is now booing LB and The Nightmare because he called a timeout and the Spain coach is taunting LB with clapping and giving him a thumbs up, this is the moment of the game. But of course Dougie says LB will apologize because LB always plays the game the right way. If I hear the “play the game the right way” one more time, I am going to gag. Game over, we win 102 to 94. We have a developing situation, the Spain Coach goes after the officiating crew and has no interest in shaking LB’s hand after this game because he felt the timeout was disrespectful to his team when his team was up double figures. He is letting Brown know how he feels, sticking his finger in his chest, and Brown is shouting back, the truculence is off the scale. Wow!!! The coaching staffs are going at it and this is great. I want a rumble. But unfortunately for this guy, the situation is diffused as LB walks away. Sages interviews Starbury, informing him that he broke Chuck’s scoring record in the Olympics with 31 points in the game. I guess Starbury is off my list of worst Dream Teamers’ ever, but they still have 4 of 5 and 80% isn’t bad. We need Chuck in the studio for this reason exactly, I can only imagine what he would say. I am encouraged with this performance, I would call it our best yet. Still, I am a bit skeptical because next up I am almost certain that we get the joy of entertaining Manu Ginobili and Argentina assuming there isn’t a debacle tonight against the home Greeks. I must eat my words, they proved me wrong with the shooting, and a much better overall effort. At least by expecting the worst I couldn’t get disappointed. But overall, this guy is cautious yet optimistic, with a performance that was better, yet still not worthy of the USA Basketball label. And on that note, it’s time for Yao Ming v. Sarunas Jaskikevicius since there is no more water polo.

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