Team USA were ruthless in Manchester on Thursday night, as they defeated Great Britain 118-78.
Great Britain can take a little comfort in the fact that they matched the Olympic gold medal favourites for the first seven minutes of the contest, but a Carmelo Anthony inspired 14-0 run which included two three-pointers from the New York Knicks superstar ended the fantasy.
Anthony led Team USA with 19 points, matched by team-mate Deron Williams, who also hit 19. The Brooklyn Net drilled four straight triples to push Team USA’s lead to 28 in the third quarter.
“I thought it was a great game from us,” Williams said afterwards. “We’re using these warm-up games to find our rhythm, to find some chemistry as we have only been together for a short amount of time. All these practices and all these games will do a lot to build that chemistry and finding our roles within the team.”
Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng led all scorers for Great Britain with 25 points, supported by ex-NBA big man Pops Mensah-Bonsu who was one rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“For some of these guys, it’s the best competition they have played against,” Deng said. “But for 40 minutes, it’s very hard to keep focused, physically you have to be in top shape and you have to be alert, it was good for the players to have that tonight.”
Great Britain came into this game knowing that inside, they could do some damage against a limited American frontcourt with Tyson Chandler the only recognised center and Kevin Love the only player at the four spot.
Team USA threw that theory out of the window by scoring 64 points inside to Great Britain’s mere 18. Granted 32 of those points were transition slams but the U.S showed that they can compete inside.
They will get a true test of that when they play Argentina and Spain next-up in Barcelona.
For Great Britain, their Olympic warm-ups end in Belgium, when they face-off against Tunisia and Belgium before they move to the Olympic Park.
The fans at the MEN Arena were pro-GB, but they came wanting to see a show – they certainly got that. LeBron James scored 16 points, pulled down six rebounds and dished four assists in 20 minutes without getting out of first gear. Rookie Anthony Davis (pictured) played 13 minutes for his 11 points and four blocks, something head coach Mike Krzyzewski was pleased with.
“He’s [Davis] a developing pro, he’s the best college player in the country,” Krzyzewski said. “He wasn’t even sure that he was going to be on the team so he joined us almost ten days late so he’s catching up and getting used to the knowledge of our system. But tonight he played really well and when we went zone, the physicality didn’t enter his game and he was able to roam free.”
Krzyzewski added: “It maybe a weapon for us, so if we go zone and have Anthony in the middle, he certainly can block some shots and he did a great job for us.”