Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Redeem Team lives up to their name...

...barely, and while all of America rejoices with them for bringing back the gold after the train crash that was
the Athens Olympics, this Typical Guy can't help but think that, although Team USA won the battle for the gold medal against Spain, 118-107, they may have lost the war for international basketball supremacy.

Because while the original Dream Team practically bulldozed their opponents into the ground in the Barcelona Olympics, the Redeem Team had to go through the eye of the needle to secure the gold medal in Beijing. And for a team that boasts of having the most talented basketball player in the planet in Kobe Bryant and the most versatile player in the NBA in LeBron James, that doesn't say much - particularly if they beat Spain by 37 points in their Group B division game and yet in last Sunday's winner-takes-all game, the Redeem Team only won by 11 points, with Spain even coming as close to just 2 points behind the Redeem Team in the closing minutes of the game itself!

The Associated Press got it right - Team USA was lucky to be better than Spain last Sunday.

From the tip-off, the Redeem Team never had control of the game as Spain led Team USA for much of the first quarter and managed to keep themselves within striking distance of Team USA after they took the lead with wide open shots from the perimeter and hardly any challenges in the shaded area. Fortunately enough for Team USA, the talent and depth of their line-up kept them from going down under Spain's relentless attacks, with the Redeem Team only securing their victory in the last few minutes as Spain decided to prevent Team USA's margin from increasing even further by fouling them.

Still, Spain had Team USA on their toes at several times in the closing minutes of the game, after Rudy (Daboy?) Fernandez cut Team USA's lead to just 2 with less than 8 minutes left in the game before the Redeem Team built their lead up again slightly; that is, until Carlos Jimenez's 3-pointer pulled Spain back, 108-104, with a little more than 2 minutes to go.

That's when the Redeem Team took over, with a 3 from Dwyane Wade off of a pass from LeBron, a drive to the hoop from Kobe, and a 3-point play from Chris Paul with less than a minute to go practically sealed the game for good.

Yes, the Redeem Team did live up to their name by redeeming Team USA's basketball glory in the game that started in a YMCA gym in Springfield, Massacheussets more than a hundred years ago. But with how they almost lost the most important game in their quest for gold with their lack of defensive intensity and hard-to-be-proud-about perimeter shooting, as much as they try to exorcise them, the ghosts of Athens and Japan will still linger for a long, long time...

...and maybe, just maybe, in two years' time, a new ghost from Turkey might haunt them in the FIBA World Championship.

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