BEIJING — Oh, it’s so on.
Those U.S. basketball games against China and Angola were just appetizers for a rematch two years in the making. The Greeks that made the U.S. team look defensively incapable and downright wimpy in the 2006 world championships are next on the schedule, and the Americans are fired up.
That game stings.
The loser always remembers, right, Chris Paul?
“I really don’t remember it too well.”
Well, Paul was coming off a whirlwind rookie season and was pretty much awful in that game against the Greeks.
But you, Carmelo Anthony, you’ve been on the international scene for four years, and you must be ready to stop the guy who carved up your defense like Steve Nash and scored on it like Allen Iverson.
You remember him, right Carmelo?
“Spadoulis, I think.”
Nooo, it was Vasileios Spanoulis.
But, hey, every Greek player’s name ends in an “s,” and what do names really matter anyway?
All that matters is that you’re better prepared. That pick-and-roll that demolished you — yes, the same play you run on the playground made a bunch of NBA all-stars look like amateurs — will not work because you’ve done your homework.
Right, LeBron James?
“I haven’t seen them play since they beat us.”
Well, that’s not very encouraging at all.
This doesn’t sound like the Redeem Team. More like the Redo Team, bound to repeat overseas embarrassment.
Wasn’t it this kind of obliviousness that cost the U.S. the gold medal in Japan two summers ago? They looked back then like a team that had no idea the Greeks would run the pick-and-roll over and over.
If it wasn’t for the U.S. coaching staff being in the Capital Gymnasium on Tuesday scouting the Greeks as they trounced Germany, it would appear no one was paying attention.
That Greek team had no NBA players, yet they shot 63 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3 against the U.S.
The Greeks bullied the U.S. front line with Sofoklis Schortsanitis, and yet this U.S. team features the exact same front line (Carlos Boozer is the only new big man, and he barely plays).
So, what, Kobe Bryant is supposed to be the difference? Mr. Mamba was 0-of-8 from 3-point range and 4-of-13 overall in the Americans’ 97-76 trouncing of Angola.
Angola, by the way, whose coach actually told his team the goal was to lose by less than 40 points.
So this is going to be international disaster No. 4 for the U.S., right?
Well, hold on.
You can’t really take the U.S. team’s nonchalant attitude at face value. The NBA has programmed them to downplay so well they could make Michael Phelps sound like just another swimmer.
If you ask the same question a few more times, though, they’ll let you in.
So maybe the Americans aren’t entirely oblivious.
“We’ll be ready for them,” James said. “I promise you.”