Yet another international basketball competition, yet another disappointment from a USA squad culled from the ranks of NBA superstars and slapped together in a few weeks to try to outlast a field made up of teams that have been working together so long that the players know each other’s extended families.
The U.S. did beat Argentina for the bronze medal on Saturday, but it will be their flopperoo in the semis against Greece that will stand as testament to its continued impotence in world play. The team will eventually disperse, the Americans will move on to their various business interests and prepare for their pro seasons, and the FIBA World Championships will be yet another irritant in the memory.
Yet this one was more than just the run-of-the-mill sleepwalk through an odd-shaped lane. It was a microcosm of everything that is wrong with USA basketball on an international level, and a stern reminder that the remedy is not right around the corner.
Unfortunately, this may be the fate of USA basketball for the foreseeable future, no matter how many character guys they bring in. Get used to it.
The USA lost to Greece, 101-95, in the first of the two semifinal games in Saitama, Japan Thursday night after a disturbing collapse that saw the Americans go from a cushy 12-point lead and an apparent breeze to a four-point deficit at halftime and a shocking shift in momentum. It was the first time Greece had ever beaten the U.S.
Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best coaches on the planet. I can’t believe he doesn’t teach his charges how to defend the pick and roll. And yet, there were the Greeks in the third quarter, running it to near perfection while the Americans stood helplessly and watched it happen. Greece hit 14 of 18 shots in the third.
Coach K surely hammered home the point that a disciplined possession with lots of ball movement is preferable to jacking up long-range and low-percentage perimeter shots. I’m sure he touched on that. And yet, there they were, baffling the world with their playground antics, banking on their individual talent like so many red-white-and-blue losers have before them.
If Krzyzewski is the guru of defense, he should find some new disciples before Beijing in 2008. And that’s if the U.S. can even qualify for the Olympics, which it will now be forced to try and do next summer as a result of this defeat.
They just can’t get together and practice as often as players from other countries. The demands of the NBA season make a fully committed international team almost impossible. As a result, the Americans keep putting themselves in a position to fail against teams like Greece, for instance, which doesn’t have a single NBA player but is tenacious, intelligent, poised and unified.
PBT: The Spurs saw the NBA title slip through their fingers Tuesday night. Do they have it in them to rebound from their meltdown in time for Game 7?
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Bosh: 'We'll see who hits first'
Heat forward Chris Bosh talks about what could be a very physical Game 6 stating, "Hit them in the mouth, throat and their eyes." Miami coach Erik Spoelstra says the opposing Spurs "attack you ... but we do the same thing."
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Wednesday And-1 links: 76ers in no rush to hire a coach2 hr 53 min ago
PBT Extra: Previewing Heat/Spurs NBA Finals Game 74 hr 39 min ago
Report: Ed Pinckney gets second interview with Grizzlies5 hr 38 min ago
Utah Jazz bring back Jerry Sloan as team consultant6 hr 27 min ago
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.