The US men’s basketball team cruised to victory over Team GB in last night’s Olympics warm-up match in Manchester, as a host of NBA stars lit up the MEN Arena.
Facing the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant – as well as Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams and Chris Paul – was always going to be a difficult task for Brits and, sure enough, the Americans overcame their early resistance with an exhibition of devastating efficiency.
Team GB did manage to pull within one of the visitors in the first quarter when Sheffield Sharks guard Nate Reinking sank a three-pointer but the gulf in class began to show towards the end of the period, with the US racking up ten unanswered points to lead 33-20 at the break.
The Americans took control in the second quarter, pressing the GB players relentlessly and showing no mercy when they worked an opening to make it 55-37 at half-time.
Team GB’s star man Luol Deng, who plays in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, opened the scoring in the third but Team USA were soon unlocking the British defence seemingly at will.
Miami Heat star LeBron James slammed in a trademark two-handed dunk to give the gold medal favourites a commanding 75-46 lead and the third finished 89-55.
The final quarter turned into a run-and-dunk exhibition for the Americans, with 19-year-old New Orleans Hornets starlet Anthony Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder taking turns to wow the sell-out Manchester crowd.
The Americas moved into triple digits thanks to a perfect three-pointer from another Thunder star, James Harden, who undoubtedly possesses one of the finest beards in sport. Team GB responded with 11 points in less than three minutes from Andrew Sullivan of the Leicester Riders as the game finished 118-78.
While Team GB will perhaps be disappointed with the final score, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game. Deng led all scorers with 25 points and the team never let their heads drop as the US cruised to victory.
Indeed, the Brits should take heart from the fact they produced some moments of real quality against players who ply their trade in the best league in the world every other night.
As for Team USA, it is hard to see who can possibly deny them a 14th gold medal in 17 Olympic basketball tournaments and the crowd in Manchester and those watching at home were treated to a dazzling display from their star-studded squad.
Team GB Team USA
Luol Deng – 25 Deron Williams – 19
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – 12 Carmelo Anthony – 19
Andrew Sullivan – 11 LeBron James – 16
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – 9 LeBron James – 6
Luol Deng – 4 Andre Iguodala – 6
Joel Freedland – 3 Kobe Byrant – 5
Andrew Lawrence – 3
Dan Clark – 3
Luol Deng – 4 Russell Westbrook – 9
Andrew Lawrence – 3 Chris Paul – 6
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – 3 Deron Williams – 5
Luol Deng – 1 Chris Paul – 3
Joel Freedland – 1 Anthony Davis – 4
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – 1 Tyson Chandler – 2
By Andy Jowett