Japan 2006 has begun: USA beat Puerto Rico and Serbia and Montenegro lost to Nigeria
In the other hand, the defending champion Serbia and Montenegro had a bad day, upset by African bronze medallist Nigeria.
As we said, the United States dominated the match with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade contributing 15 and 13 points respectively in their Group D opening win. In fact, the United States took a sweet revenge on their upset 92-73 defeat to Puerto Rico at the Athens Olympics two years ago.
"I'm satisfied, it's a game of revenge," said Elton Brand, who had six points. "It really doesn't matter we won by how many points. A win is a win."
Leading 57-51 into the second half, the Team USA opened the third quarter with a 14-5 run for a comfortable 71-56 lead. In the rest of the match, the Puerto Rican players could never cut their deficit under eight points.
The American side showed their determination to play as a team and enjoyed a surprising balanced offense with Kirk Hinrich, Christopher Paul and Dwight Howard also scoring in double digits.
In another game of the competition, NBA All-star center Yao Ming scored a game-high 30 points, but his efforts turned out to be in vain as China was beat by Italy 84-69.
Trailing 39-35 after the first half, China took the lead at 48-47 as the Houston Rockets' player had 11 points in a 13-11 run opening the third quarter. But the Italians made six three-pointers in the rest of the period for a 67-56 advantage before enlarging the gap to 80-64 amid the fourth.
"I have never seen a squad shoot the ball so well," Yao Ming expressed. "If you just spare them a half-arm distance, they can hit it."
In fact, Italy, who made eight three-pointers in the second half, went 13-for-25 from beyond the arc.
It's important to say that Gianluca Basile shot 9-for-14 from the field to lead Italy with 27 points with Matteo Soragna and Luca Garri adding 14 and 10 respectively.
And in the other Group D match, Slovenia sailed past Senegal 96-79.
And Nigeria, who was making its second appearance at the quadrennial championship, led most of the way for a 82-75 win over five-time world champion Serbia and Montenegro in the Group A match in Sendai.
We must know that in other Group A actions, Argentina outperformed France 80-70 and Lebanon beat Venezuela 82-72.
Elsewhere, European powerhouses Greece, Germany and Spain also claimed convincing victories in the opening round of the preliminaries.
We must keep in mind that twenty four nations are competing in four groups with top four finishers from each group to reach the elimination round. The race for the world title has begun.