FIBA World Championship 2006 - Unofficial Blog

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

USA had a hard time against Italy

For the American team, the game against Italy was really scary. The United States come-from-behind 94-85 victory over the Italians was nearly a repeat of the embarrassment in Athens and the humiliation in Indianapolis.

The most importnat conclusion of the 94-85 win is that for the first time since coach Mike Krzyzewski's team began its international schedule, it showed no appreciable growth. The players didn't improve upon their solid showing against Slovenia, and though they've won their bracket of the World Championship, positive steps were not taken.

Maybe Carmelo Anthony was superb, notching a Team USA-record 35 points (29 in the second half). While he managed to ply his scoring trade all over the court, you shouldn't bank on a professional player getting hot from long distance to bring home the gold.

And Dwyane Wade was equally impressive, in the second half at least, easily penetrating the lane and finishing with 26 points. Two players scoring two thirds of their squad's points may work in the NBA, where the caste system is in place and all roles are defined by the end of training camp, but not in international play, where new heroes have to step up in every single quarter. Consider Wednesday's win an exception to the rule.

Even more telling was the way Team USA handled its first bit of adversity in non-exhibition play.

Team USA got the victory this time, but they must get better if they want to win the title, especially with Spain and Argentina making such good campaigns.

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