Solid start for the USA bball team in the 2008 Olympics, in a 101-70 over Yao Ming and China in what was predicted to be the most watched basketball game in the history of the sport.
China came out on fire from behind the arc and that kept them close in the first half. Very impressive defensive effort by the USA in this one, especially from LeBron and Kobe. LeBron had a couple highlight reel blocks, including one that he pinned against the backboard reminiscent of the one great highlight MJ had as a Wizard. There was no doubt these guys were playing with passion which was great to see. It seems these guys finally get it. Oh, and there's no doubt that Dwyane Wade is if not all the way back, very close to it. He looks outstanding.
I also stayed up late last night/this morning and watched the Spain-Greece game, and the first half of the Argentina-Lithuania game as well. Of those 4 teams, Spain was easily the most impressive. Very good backcourt with Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro, and one guy I've been waiting to see play, Ricky Rubio.
The 17-year-old Rubio's drawn comparisons to the likes of Pistol Pete Maravich and Steve Nash for his flashy play at the point guard position, and has been projected to be a top five draft pick if he leaves Spain for the NBA in the next couple years. He showed the great court vision I've been hearing about and looks like a composed court general. At least in this game, he showed to be under control and not just a flashy guy trying to wow people.
Rubio and Spain just absolutely dominated a Greece team many expected to compete for a medal, and obviously they still can, but they looked overmatched in this game. Along with Spain's terrific backcourt, they manhandled the Greeks in the frontcourt game with the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc. Surprisingly, Marc started over his NBA star brother at center, and was very good on the boards.
Of the 3 games I've watched thus far, Spain seems to be the one that would cause the most trouble for the USA, but coming into the Olympics, I thought that team would be Argentina. However, the aging team looked slow against Lithuania in a 79-75 loss, and seemed to lack the defensive intensity they've been known for after winning the gold medal in 2004. Lithuania is a solid team, featuring Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza, and forward Warriors point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, but there's no doubt Argentina has the more talented squad. Remember though, Argentina had a rough start in the 2004 Olympics, with 2 losses in the preliminary round, and went on to win the gold.