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Basketball

Ginobili will have ankle evaluated

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 25, 2008 07:09 AM

BEIJING -- US guard Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Argentina guard Manu Ginobili of the Spurs were both on a flight from Beijing to Chicago that included Olympians from the US, Canada, Australia, and Chile.

Ginobili told the Boston Globe that he is on his way to San Antonio to get his ankle injury evaluated. The 2005 NBA All-Star reinjured his left ankle against the US in the semifinals of the men's basketball tournament last Friday and didn't play Sunday when Argentina beat Lithuania to win the bronze medal.

"We'll see what they want me to do," Ginobili said about the Spurs.

They've had a good run

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff August 24, 2008 09:40 AM

BEIJING -- As defending men's basketball champions, the Argentines had hoped to repeat. That's only natural.

But they seemed very happy to be leaving here with the bronze, which they earned via an 87-75 conquest of Lithuania. "The bronze is better than nothing," reasoned center Fabricio Oberto (San Antonio Spurs). "It would not be good to make a 35-hour flight home and arrived empty-handed."

It has been a marvelous six-year run for the 33-year old Oberto and friends. Oberto and the core group consisting of Manu Ginobili (age 31), Carlos Delfino (age 35), Andres Nocioni (age 28) and Luis Scola (age 28) have won a World Championship silver medal (2002, Indianapolis), an Olympic gold (2004, Athens), and now an Olympic bronze here, while losing the bronze medal game in the Tokyo Worlds in 2006.

And, of course, they will always have the distinctiion of being the first team to defeat a club with the letters "USA" on the front of the jersey in the era of professional participation in these championships. They did so with the earth-shaking conquest of the Americans six years ago in Indianapolis.

The question now is whether or not the end for this group is here, or whether we'll see this bunch two years hence in Turkey. If we don't, they have created some great memories for themselves.

"I am very proud to have been a part of this team," Oberto said. "What I'm proudest of is that we brought heart, dispipline and a love of the game to every game we've played over the years."

Former NBA center John Amaechi, here as a commentator, is a big fan of the Argentines. "They have a great legacy. They raised the profile of non-American basketball," he says. "They shattered the invincibility of American basketball."

Argentina hasn't always been lucky in these tournaments. After defeating America in 2002, they arrived in the championshi[p game without Ginobili, who had injured his ankle. Oberto broke his hand in the semifinal game of the Athens Olymlics and was not availble for the Finals. And Ginobili was not even suited up on Sunday because he had re-injured the ankle that hampered him in the 2008 NBA playoffs during Argentina's quarterfinal triumph over Greece.

But they played a very nice game without him to get that bronze medal. "A team that has won gold doesn't want to go home without any medal," pointed out Amaechi. "You know," he said, "I'm no (hoop) junkie, but I love this team. They truly did want it more than Lithuania."...

  • Final Olympic thought: I doubt that it's gone unnoticed in Moscow that the USSR had a helluva Olympics.

    China had the most golds with 51 and the USA had the most total medals with 110, but the unofficial winner was the old USSR, which accounted for a staggering 171 medals. If there still was a USSR, which there isn't.

    Oh, I know it's a bogus argument, because if all the former members of the Soviet Union were back under the USSR aegis, they'd be competing for a spot on the big team and there would be fewer medal opportunities. Hey, don't mess me up with logic, OK? I've got my little premise and I'm sticking to it.

    So...the Russian Federation (still the world's biggest country with 11 time zones) bagged 23 golds, 21 silvers and 28 bronzes for 72 medals. And then the 13 former members of the USSR now flying their own flags -- the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova and all those indistinguishable (except to people at the Kennedy School and at Tufts) "Stans," hauled in 99 more medals (20-24-55) for a grand total of 172.

    Hoist one in Khruschev's memory, why don't you?

  • Americans get golden redemption

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 24, 2008 08:13 AM

    BEIJING -- Typically, only a player and a coach attend Olympic press conferences for team sports. But after coming together as one to win a long-awaited gold medal, the USA men’s basketball team’s entire 12-man roster felt it was only fitting that they all were there side by side with their coach at Sunday’s postgame gathering.

    The United States won its first gold medal in men’s basketball since 2000 with a tough 118-107 victory over Spain in the Olympics finals at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium Sunday. The Americans have now won 13 gold medals in the sport dating to 1936. The US, whose team was made up of NBA stars, went 8-0 in this tournament and won each game by double digits.

    "We had to pull together to get this win," said guard Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 27 off the bench. "If we would have broken off at one moment, the game could have went the other way. We are all happy for each other."

    Guard Kobe Bryant, who had 20 points, said: "Everyone wants to talk about NBA players being selfish, being arrogant, being individuals. But what you saw today was a team bonding together facing adversity and coming out of here with a big win."

    The Americans had completely dominated all of their opponents entering the gold medal game, winning every contest by at least 20 points. The US even hammered the Spaniards, 119-82, in preliminary action. But the gold medal game was far from a blowout as a much more confident Spain team was ready to play.

    "The major difference lied in our mental state," said Spain forward Pau Gasol, who had 21 points in the gold medal game. "In the last match we made some big mistakes … We didn’t have adequate confidence."

    Gasol’s mid-range jumper with 3:32 left in the intense contest trimmed Spain’s deficit to just 5 points, 104-99. But with the Spanish fans going wild, Bryant put his finger by his mouth to quiet the crowd after he nailed a 3-pointer and got fouled with 3:10 left. After the 2008 NBA MVP made the free throw, the Americans were up, 108-99.

    Spain, however, wasn’t ready to give up a fight for the gold. A 5-0 run finalized by a Carlos Jiminez 3-pointer trimmed Spain’s deficit to just 4 points, 108-104, with 2:25 remaining. But Wade followed with a 3-pointer that gave USA some breathing room, 111-104, with 2:04 left. Bryant’s running lay-in with 1:11 remaining put USA up, 113-105, and sealed the elusive gold.

    "I give respect where respect is due to the Spain team," forward LeBron James said. "They were unbelievable. We had a game plan and they countered our game plan by making some incredible plays. Every possession counted tonight for all 40 minutes. Every possession counted. You couldn’t take one possession off, one second off.

    "But if it wasn’t for the determination and will power that we have in each other, we wouldn’t have pulled through and got this win. Much respect to Spain, but the US is back on top."

    As the game clock wound down to the final buzzer, the American players were jubilant as the crowd chanted "USA … USA." After celebrating with hugs, fist pumps, chest bumps, running aimlessly and giving high fives, each American player went and shook hands or hugged former -US Olympian and NBC basketball analyst Doug Collins. Collins played on the US team in 1972 that lost a well-chronicled and controversial gold medal game to Russia.

    The US players next smiled brightly on the medal stand while waving and blowing kisses to the crowd. The Americans stared at the gold medals and kissed them once they were placed over their heads. And once the medal ceremony was over, they showed appreciation for coach Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff by taking turns placing all 12 gold medals on their necks for a picture.

    Long after the gold medal game was over, Wade said: "We’re not done [celebrating]. We’re going to go in the locker room and really celebrate some more. We were all going around hugging each other."

    Kidd was the only member of USA’s roster that had felt such bliss before. He won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The 35-year-old became only the 13th US men’s basketball player to win two gold medals and is undefeated while playing for four national teams. The Americans won bronze during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

    "For the guys who never experienced its unbelievable," Kidd said. "I bet you if you ask them right now they’ve forgotten about getting the medal around their neck because it goes by so fast.

    "Everybody was excited. Everybody wanted to take a deep breath. Everybody was getting their shoes signed because it’s something, like I told them, that they can never take away from you."

    Four USA players who may have appreciated the gold medals the most were Wade, James, Carmelo Anthony, and Carlos Boozer. All four were members of the disappointing bronze medal squad at the 2004 Athens Games. Wade, James, and Anthony were also among the US players who also won bronze at the 2006 World Championships.

    "After 2004, we touched base with each other and said we wanted to make a commitment in being part of USA Basketball and try to accomplish something we’ve never done before, and that’s win a gold medal," James said. "Once we came together and said we wanted to do it, we put our time, we gave up our summers to sacrifice to play the game of basketball, which we love to do.

    "To finally go and win the gold medal, not just for us as individuals but for everyone and America means a lot."

    Said Wade: "The moment is special. All three of us took time out to just take the moment in."

    Argentina wins bronze in men's hoops

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 24, 2008 02:14 AM

    BEIJING -- Argentina won a bronze medal in men's basketball today by defeating Lithuania 87-75 at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. Ex-NBA player Carlos Delfino had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds for Argentina. Argentina star guard Manu Ginobili of the Spurs did not play due to an ankle injury.

    A positive experience for Hammon

    Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff August 23, 2008 03:41 PM

    BEIJING -- People are going to think what they're going to think, and Becky Hammon isn't going to worry about it. She long ago gave up on the idea that the average American would understand.

    Hammon is the star player for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars who came here to be an Olympian, only not to play for the USA, but for, of all people, the Russian Federation. Some people aren't happy about that. They see her as a traitor, or something. And many folks think the Americans were a bit rough on her during their 67-52 victory in Thursday's semifinal game. Hammon had come into the game as Russia's leading scorer, but she was held to three points while being subjected to some physical defense.

    But she bounced back, as great competitors will, and she now has a measure of satisfaction. She's got a bronze medal, and she knows the Russians couldn't have won it without her 22 points, and especially without her big second quarter during Russia's 94-81 conquest of China on Saturday evening. The Russians and Chinese played evenly in periods one, three and four. The difference was the 28-16 Russian edge in the second quarter, and the player who made that difference was Hammon, who made three three-pointers while picking up a steal and an assist

    "It's just relief," she said. "It's nice to win the medal, but that was never why I did it."

    She didn't spurn the Americans. They spurned her. She just wasn't in the Olympic mix, but when the Russians asked her if she'd consider playing for them, she said, 'Why not?" She has played professionally in Russia, and they were very happy to arrange the paperwork.

    Someone might quarrel with the loose eligibility rules some countries have. Truth be told, I'm one of them. But until the IOC clamps down, people will keep doing it, and so there was nothing illegal about what the Russians and Becky Hammon did. They like her and she likes them and she got to have an Olympic experience. It was as simple as that.

    "I've never doubted my decision for a second," she said. "I'm here for the right reasons. To me, it's been an even better experience than I thought. The Village was great and the other girls have treated me so well. I'm anxious to get back home and re-join my team and then I'll be looking forward to returning to Russia."

    US men in final

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 22, 2008 12:12 PM

    The United States men's team has reached the gold medal game with a 101-81 victory over Argentina.

    Carmelo Anthony led eight players in double figures for the U,S. with 21 points.

    The Americans will meet Spain on Sunday in the final.

    USA men's hoop up 9 at half

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 22, 2008 11:11 AM

    BEIJING -- The United States men's basketball team owned a 49-40 lead a halftime against Argentina in the semi-finals game of the Olympics at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium tonight. The Americans have shot more 3-pointers (6-of-20) than two point field goal attempts (13). USA forward Carmelo Anthony has 13 points while Argentina forward Luis Scola had 12 points. Argentina guard Manu Ginobili left the game with 3:39 left in the first quarter with USA up 14-4 and didn't return the rest of the first half. Spain beat Lithuania earlier to advance to the gold medal game Sunday.

    Crisis averted for ladies hoops

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 21, 2008 09:38 AM

    BEIJING -- The United States women's basketball team avoided a major catastrophe today, pulling away from Russia in the second half to advance to the gold medal game with a 67-52 win.

    US women's hoops in a dogfight

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 21, 2008 08:38 AM

    BEIJING -- The United State's women's basketball team owns a slim 33-32 lead over Russia in the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament Thursday night. USA guard Diana Taurasi, a former UConn star, has a game-high 12 points at halftime.

    Russian guard Becky Hammon, who is an American, is scoreless.

    The USA is only shooting 33 percent from the field but has nailed 5 of 9 three-pointers. Russia has made 43 percent of its field goals, but missed 4 of 5 three-pointers.

    The Americans also have 13 turnovers, 2 fast break points and have not scored any points off Russian turnovers. The Russians were up by as many as 7 points before the Americans came back to take the halftime lead

    Team USA has won three straight gold medals and hasn't lost in the Olympics since the semifinal round of the 1992 Barcelona games.

    Several members of the USA men's basketball team are in attendance tonight.

    USA Men's Hoops Up 12 at half

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 20, 2008 08:48 AM

    USA's men's basketball team is up 55-43 at halftime in a quarterfinals contest against Australia after Deron Williams made a 3-pointer at the intermission buzzer. The Americans were only up 25-24 at the end of the first quarter. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James both have 12 points at halftime. USA defeated Australia by only 11 points, 87-76, in an exhibition Aug. 5 in Shanghai.

    Phelps watches USA hoops

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 18, 2008 12:52 PM

    BEIJING -- Approximately 20 members of the USA swim team came out to Wukesong Arena to watch the USA men's basketball team play Germany tonight. Michael Phelps was invited to join the USA basketball team in their locker room following their 106-57 victory and here's some of the Q&A following the event:

    What was it like hooking up with the men's basletball team tonight?

    "It's cool. When we're swimming and we look up and see these guys, it's awesome to see them in the stands. We were all so excited it was like we can't lose in front of these guys, we're not losing a single race in front of these guys. Just being able to sit in here and hang out with these guys, it's cool to sit in here. These are the guys I'm always watching on tv. It's cool to siti nhere, hang our and be one of the guys."

    Whose idea was it to come over and watch the men play tonight?

    "I actually wanted to come and see one of the games before I left and this worked out perfectly in our scheduling, so I was able to come down here."

    How many of your teammates joined you here tonight?

    "About half our team came over tonight. We had a pretty big showing of the crew to cheer these guys on."

    Did they put on a good show for you?

    "Oh yeah. We destroyed them. It was a fun game to watch."

    U.S. men perfect

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 18, 2008 10:07 AM

    The U.S. men's basketball team kept its record unblemished with a 106-57 victory over Germany Monday evening at the Olympic Basektball Gymnasium. The Americans close out group play with a 5-0 record and are the only undefeated men's team at the 2008 Olympic Games.

    Dwight Howard led the U.S. with 22 points and 10 rebounds. LeBron James (Akron, Ohio) added 18 points, while Kobe Bryant scored 13 and Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul each added 10. The Americans outrebounded the Germans 52-38 and hit 55 percent (42-77) of their shots while limiting the Germans to only 30 percent (22-73) from the field.

    The U.S. now moves on to the knockout and will face Australia in the quarterfinals, which begin on Wednesday, August 20.

    Team USA rolls

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 16, 2008 12:05 PM

    The U.S. basketball team continued its dominance as eight players scored in double figures as the Americans whipped Spain, 119-82.

    LeBron James led the Americans with18 points. Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony each had 16 points, as the USA outscored the Spainards 58-37 in the second half.

    US women roll

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 15, 2008 11:26 AM

    Tina Thompson (Los Angeles, Calif.) tallied 17 points as five Americans scored in double figures in the U.S. women's basketball team's 93-55 victory over Spain Friday night at the Olympic Basketball Arena.

    Lisa Leslie (Hawthorne, Calif.) recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and added two blocked shots. Candace Parker (Naperville, Ill.) had 13, Diana Taurasi (Chino, Calif.) 12 and Sylvia Fowles (Miami, Fla.) had 10. Amaya Valdemoro led Spain with 17 points, while Nuria Martinez and Anna Montanana each added 10.

    Now 4-0 in Group B, the U.S. will take on New Zealand Sunday, August 17, at 10:15 p.m.

    Team USA rolls

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 14, 2008 09:35 AM

    The United Sattes avenged a 2006 upset loss in the semifinals of the World Championships, by thrashing Greece, 92-69.

    Today's American victory is its first statement to the rest of the field that they are the favorites to win the gold medal and all others should be focused on fighting for the silver medal.

    Team USA defeated teams that are not expected to medal in China and Angola. The Americans will next play undefeated Spain (3-0), the 2006 World Champions, tomorrow night.

    USA in control

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 14, 2008 08:44 AM

    After a slow start (the Americans led only 20-16 after the first quarter), Team USA leads Greece 51-32 at the half behind a spark off the bench by Dwayne Wade. Wade and LeBron James each had 11 points in the second quarter.

    The Americans finished the half with a 15-6 run.

    US men roll

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 12, 2008 10:23 AM

    BEIJING -- Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead a balanced attack as the U.S. men's basketball team scored a 97-76 victory over Angola in Group B play at the Olympic Basketball Arena Tuesday night.

    Wade connected on six of eight field goal attempts, including 2-3 from three-point range, as the Americans hit .560 from the field (38-68). Dwight Howard scored 14 points, while LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony each added 12. Anthony led the Americans with six rebounds. Carlos Morais led Angola with 24 points.

    The U.S. continues group play on Thursday, August 14, when they meet Greece at 8 p.m. The Greeks improved to 1-1 after defeating Germany 87-64 earlier Tuesday evening.

    Team USA leads

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 12, 2008 08:53 AM

    Dwight Howard leads Team USA with 12 points and three rebounds as the American men's team leads Angola 55-37 at halftime at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. LeBron Games and Dwayne Wade each have 11 points as the USA has hit 64 percent (21-33) from the field.

    Basketball fans take in USA vs. China

    Posted by Scott LaPierre August 10, 2008 04:34 PM




    (Text by Patricia Wen / Globe Staff)
    BEIJING--On the day of the long-anticipated match-up between the U.S. Redeem Team and China, we went in search of a bar or restaurant where typical Beijingers would watch together on a big-screen T.V. We found such a placeat the Xiao Yu Mountain restaurant in central Beijing. The place, where scores of red lanterns hung from ceilings, seemed an ideal spot to test one thing we had heard from our sports department colleagues: Chinese fans like U.S. players.

    Indeed, there were many fans -- mostly young men under 30 -- who named Americans as their most admired. There was a 22-year-old waiter, Huang Hui, who looks up to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant because he plays "rough and wild." Zhang Rui, 28, likes LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers because he's "a funny guy." And Xu Dan, 26, aspires to be like Denver Nuggets guard Allen Iverson because he's "a short man" who works hard in a tall man's game.

    For the most part, we found that patriotism took a back seat to personal passion. Still, many also named Yao Ming, the 7-foot, 6-inch center for the Houston Rockets, who has been given by China's rulers the status of a national hero, especially during the Olympics. And they wished that China would miraclously beat the U.S. (China did not, losing 101 to 70.)

    At a time when China seeks to boost its patriotic image to the world, did those who liked the American players feel disloyal?

    Tang Wei, 27, who likes Bryant, shook his head.

    "One world, one dream," he said with a smile, repeating the slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    U.S. rout Chinese

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 10, 2008 11:42 AM
    usachina.jpg
    Kobe Bryant dunks as Sun Yue of China defends. (Dusan Vranic-Pool/Getty Images)

    BEIJING -- It was billed to be the most hyped up team sport event - The U.S. vs. China in men's basketball.

    The stage was set between East and West.

    President Bush and his father arrived 30 minutes before the game to witness the event.

    During pre-game introductions the NBA all-star team called the United States received a louder reception than their own team.

    Kobe Bryant got the loudest ovation of all -- even over Yao Ming, who before the game said he knew the Chinese would not win but hoped that it would be competitive.

    Well after one quarter it seemed as if Yao would receive his wish when the Chinese trailed 20-16.

    But Dwayne Wade scored 19 points and LeBron James added 18 as the Americans whipped the Chinese, 101-70 before an overflowing crowd at the 18,000 seat arena this morning.

    The U.S. broke away with a strong second quarter to take a 49-37 lead at the half. The game was put out of reach in the third quarter after Wade's three-point play gave the Americans a 68-48 lead.

    Ming finished with 13 points.

    FULL ENTRY

    Andrade moves on

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 10, 2008 10:22 AM

    BEIJING -- The opening act was not pretty for Demetrius Andrade but it was effective as he outscored Kakhaber Jvania of the Republic of Georgia, 11-9 in the first round of the welterweight division today at Boxing Workers’ Gymnasium.

    The lefthander from Providence started slow as the Georgian’s plan of attack was to crowd and attempted to brawl against the disciplined top-ranked fighter.

    Throughout the bout there was a series of missed shots and plenty of clinches in the four-round bout.

    Andrade advances to fight Russia’s Andrey Balanov Thursday in the second round.

    Argentina loses in men's hoops opener

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 10, 2008 07:01 AM

    BEIJING -- Argentina's men's basketball team, the 2004 Olympic gold medalists, lost its Olympic opener 79-75 to Lithuania on Sunday night at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. Forward Linas Kleiza, who also plays for the Denver Nuggets, sealed the victory for Lithuania with 2 seconds left to seal the huge victory. Argentina star guard Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs missed an off-balanced 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Group A opener loss.

    "If you consider this loss, it's not that important," said Ginobili, who had a game-high 19 points. "But emotionally it is important. It puts a lot of pressure to you on the next game and the following one. We're going to have to get through it and we have to step up. We played an OK game. We have to play a great game now."

    Bush watches US women hoopsters' debut

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 9, 2008 11:40 AM

    BEIJING -- Unbeknownst to the United States women’s basketball team, they had a strong Olympic Games debut in front of their President on Saturday night. President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance during the American’s 97-57 blowout victory over Czech Republic.

    Bush is slated to watch the United States’ men’s basketball team play its debut contest against host China on Sunday. USA Basketball didn’t know that Bush was attending the women’s debut until Saturday afternoon and the players didn’t know he was there until afterward. He sat next to USA Basketball president Val Ackerman in a private section of the stands and departed with the U.S. ahead comfortably 75-44 after three quarters at the contest at Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium.

    “We did not know until after the game, so that was pretty cool,” said USA forward-center Lisa Leslie, who had 4 points and 10 rebounds.

    Czech Republic actually opened to a strong 8-0 start. The Americans’ first basket came on a Diana Taurasi fall away jumper with 6:37 left in the first quarter to trim the Czech Republic’s lead to 10-2. After being down 13-2, USA finished the first with a 22-17 lead and never was in trouble after that.

    Taurasi, a former Connecticut star, scored a game-high 17 points after making 7-of-13 shots and nailing two free throws. USA reserve center Sylvia Fowles also had 16 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks while reserve guard Cappie Pondexter added 12 points. The Americans shot 52 percent from the field, caused 27 turnovers and out-rebounded their foes 41-32.

    “We started off probably a C-, but we ended up probably a B+,” said USA forward Tina Thompson, who had 7 points.

    USA men’s basketball team was also in attendance during the game. But during halftime, there was a security concern that nearly got out of hand as fans tried take pictures and get as close to Team USA as possible while they sat in a private section. Both USA basketball teams have bonded during practice sessions and meals at Beijing Normal University.

    “We are one family,” Thompson said. “We support each other all the way through. We have one goal and that’s to win the gold medal. So we are going to be behind each other the whole way.”

    The Americans return to action tomorrow night to play host China. China defeated Spain 67-64 in its opener after receiving 15 points and 12 rebounds by Lan Bian.

    “We are definitely looking forward to playing China,” Leslie said. “This is their home country and they want to leave out of (the Olympics) with a medal. We don’t want that to happen. It will be a great challenge for us.

    “And when you look at their fans, they’re going to have home court advantage so to speak. We have to be on top of our game.”

    Bush oversees

    Posted by Greg Lee, Globe Staff August 9, 2008 08:44 AM

    President George Bush is watching the United States women's basketball team in its first game against the Czech Republic. He was accompanied by USA basketball president Val Ackerman.

    Also the US men's team is in the house.

    USA Hoops practice Saturday

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 9, 2008 05:05 AM

    BEIJING -- After spending about six hours at the opening ceremony on Friday, USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski gave his team a light final practice before their Olympic opener late tonight against China. Team USA watched film of their previous games before the practice at Beijing Normal University yesterday afternoon. Due to the late 10:15 p.m. local start (10:15 a.m. Sunday morning in Boston) for the much anticipated Group B opener for both teams, Krzyzewski said there will also be a shoot around some time today back at BNU to get the players out of their hotel and ready.

    “(Saturday’s) practice is about where are we at right now,” Krzyzewski said before yesterday’s practice, “what things can we do to make them a little bit better. We showed them on tape and then go 5-on-0. I didn’t have them taped (for their ankles Saturday). We were on our feet for about six hours (at the opening ceremony). It’s great to march, but it’s long. You can’t imagine how long it is.”

    Krzyzewski said the Americans were completely healthy entering the China contest. Center Dwight Howard said his previous sternum injury is not a concern. Guard Dwyane Wade added he feels completely healed from a left knee injury that ended last season with the Heat prematurely for him. Krzyzewski said Wade has played as well as any other USA player during the five exhibition games.

    “I do have my hops back and it feels good,” said Wade, who has had several acrobatic dunks in USA’s exhibition games. “I’ll tell you, it feels good to have that athletic explosion back.”

    Said Krzyzewski: “Dwyane is at the level that he was when (the Heat) won the (NBA) championship (in 2006).”

    USA's Kobe to Italy?

    Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff August 8, 2008 05:13 AM

    BEIJING – If Italy comes knocking with big money next summer, the NBA could lose its biggest star in Kobe Bryant.

    When asked by The Boston Globe about a report that LeBron James would strongly consider playing in Europe for $50 million for one season when he becomes a free agent in two years, Bryant said he would take a similar deal by a pro team in Italy if offered when he becomes a free agent next summer. Such would be a devestating loss for the NBA since the Los Angeles Lakers star was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player last season and considered its most popular player. The Associated Press originally reported that Bryant could have interest in playing professionally in Europe.

    “I’d go. I’d probably go,” said Bryant, during a USA Basketball press conference on Friday morning. “Like Milan or something like that, where I grew up or something like that… Peace out.”

    Bryant continued: “Do you know any reasonable person that would turn down 50 (million dollars)?”

    Bryant spent a large part of his childhood growing up in Italy while his father, Joe, played professional basketball there and speaks fluent Italian. In 1999, the 10-time NBA All-Star also acquired a 50 percent ownership of the Olimpia Milano of the Italian Professional Basketball League.

    “Because I grew up in Italy it has more significance to me because I’m more familiar with it, I’ve been there and I still have friends there,” said Bryant, a three-time NBA champion. “I’m thinking about buying a house out there. It would be nothing to me to be able to do that.”

    ESPN.com reported that a person close to James said Tuesday that the Cavaliers' superstar would strongly consider playing overseas if he was offered a salary of "around $50 million a year." ESPN also reported that Russia CSKA Moscow and Greece Olympiacos have already contacted James, but nothing has been discussed monetarily. Considering the Euro versus the American dollar and that European teams have no salary cap, a contract paying $50 million American wouldn’t be out the realm of possibility.

    Look for contributions from the following Globe Staffers in Beijing:

    • John Powers
    • Shira Springer
    • Bob Ryan
    • Marc J. Spears
    • Gregory Lee
    • Scott LaPierre
    • Patricia Wen
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