Kobe Bryant and LeBron James traded shots and points for assists and teammates' smiles. Jason Kidd demonstrated why the Basketball Hall of Fame will come calling in a few years, whether he ever makes (or even takes) another jump shot. Carmelo Anthony served notice that FIBA's brand of basketball suits him just fine. And the entire USA basketball squad, from Bryant to Tyson Chandler and everyone in between, placed themselves back in the running for the gold medal in China one year from now.
"We're very honored to be one of the qualifying teams for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing," Krzyzewski said. "You could not have a more proud team than this U.S. team that they are going on to represent their country."
Now the hard work begins. The 40-point blowout victories scored here are unlikely to be duplicated in Beijing when the top opponents are Spain, Greece and a fortified Argentina. Three-point shots that were wide open for Anthony and James here will be closely contested, opponents will throw multiple defensive looks at the U.S. and national teams that have elevated pushing and holding to art forms will turn up the frustration quotient.
After the first meeting with Argentina on Aug. 27, Krzyzewski complimented Argentina and revealed he knows what lies ahead.
"They have great chemistry. Even though they have some younger guys, they are still in the same system. They have continuity with coaching staff, system and player development. That's the thing that a number of these countries have going for them."
Nothing stays the same in a physical sport like basketball, and there is little doubt that the composition of the USA Basketball roster will change depending upon the availability of players, as well as tweaks that Colangelo, Krzyzewski and the coaching staff will have to determine. Some guesses:
The FIBA Americas Championship is over. Here is a thumbnail look ahead to the teams most likely to challenge Team USA in Beijing in 2008.
PBT: LeBron James created self-imposed pressure to win "not two, not three, not four" titles. Thus, should the Heat's title chase fail, it's his legacy that will take the hit.
PBT: All season long, the Heat have largely coasted, only turning up their intensity when facing elimination. That won't be good enough in Game 6 tonight.
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 head coach Erik Spoelstra says the opposing Spurs 'attack you.. but we do the same thing'.
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