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Posts Tagged ‘Team USA’

Russell Westbrook Sparks USA To Win Over Russia

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Russell Westbrook

While the USA’s big win over Russia will be remembered for Kevin Durant’s 33-point outburst, without the “Russell Westbrook Run,” who knows what the final score would’ve been. During the third quarter, Westbrook powered 15-5 run, scoring seven of those points in about two minutes of actual game-clock time. Westbrook provided two breakaway dunks, courtesy of his disruption of the Russian offense with deflections that led to steals.

The dunks were a nifty bookend to a quick-but-decisive individual scoring explosion that featured a timely (and surprising) Westbrook 3-pointer. The phrase “all over the court” is an apt description of Westbrook’s play during that important run.

There are clips of Westbrook’s play, of course, only this time, they’re embedded within the NBA’s highlight reel of the game:

The rest of the reel is worth watching, if, for nothing else, to see some of the bombs Durant was dropping.

As for Westbrook, not only did he spark a crucial Team USA run, he also started the fourth quarter converting a 3-point play, courtesy of a nice fast break, led by Rudy Gay. While it’s true Durant did the bulk of the heavy lifting scoring, Westbrook’s contribution was just as important to Team USA’s huge win, one that vaulted them to “final four” of the FIBA World Championship.

Their next opponent is Lithuania, and if Westbrook provides the same kind of off-the-bench punch, you have to like Team USA’s chances of advancing to the final game.

Russell Westbrook Had an Active Weekend

Russell Westbrook

While Team USA’s “B Team” continues to perform at a successful rate, save for a quarter or two of not playing to their abilities, one player I’ve enjoyed watching is Russell Westbrook. Talk about making the most of your opportunities. While his play hasn’t been perfect, Westbrook has been an incredibly athletic spark-plug for Coach K and the crew. While his jumping ability has been well-documented, his floor speed has actually surprised me. For some reason, I didn’t realize Westbrook was as fast as he is, and unlike some athletic basketball players, Westbrook, for the most part, keeps himself under control on the court, even when he’s blazing down it. There’s purpose to Westbrook’s speedy trips up and down the court.

In other words, he’s not running fast and jumping high simply because he can. He’s polished that genetic package into a very nice professional (and FIBA) ballplayer. Because of that, Coach K has no problem using Westbrook as one of his first substitutes, and Westbrook has rewarded that trust, while providing some highlight reel-worthy material for us to enjoy.

Video after the jump >>

Kevin Durant’s Monster Finish Against Greece

Kevin Durant

The exhibition portion of Team USA’s run-up to the FIBA World Championship ended yesterday, playing their last game against the Greek National Team. Perhaps surprisingly, Team USA rocked Greece to the tune of 87-59. During the game, Fran Fraschilla repeatedly hinted about the Greek not going full strength against the Americans, in order to save something for the real tournament, while not revealing their entire game plan. To further that point, the Greeks sat out two players 6-10 and taller who would be counted on to give Team USA trouble in the paint.

Be that as it may, an almost 30-point win is an almost 30-point win.

Leading the way for the US was Eric Gordon with 18 points (four 3-pointers) and Kevin Durant, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and perhaps the best dunk of Team USA’s exhibition run. Granted, Durant’s one-handed Statue of Liberty dunk came courtesy of a beautifully executed fast break, and Durant’s impressive finish was just an awesome finish to a great all-around play:

While the US still has issue with interior depth, no other team they will meet in the FIBA World’s has perimeter players to match up, especially with a player like Durant. Does this guarantee gold for Team USA? Considering how competitive the Spain game was, a guarantee will not be forthcoming, especially from me; although, if Kevin Love keeps putting up double-doubles (10 and 12 against Greece)…

The quest for World Championship gold begins on Saturday against Croatia.

Rudy Gay Dunks All Over France

Rudy Gay

Team USA’s non-Olympic basketball squad made their official debut yesterday against France, and while there definitely was some areas that can be improved upon — especially turnovers — overall, it has to be considered a success. 31-point wins have a way of supporting success stories. Leading the way for the Americans was Rudy Gay, who had 19 big points; about 8-10 of which came from thunderous dunks. It was a nice game for Gay, who stepped up in a big way in his role as a reserve player, while players like Kevin Durant and Danny Granger struggled.

In regards to Durant, he missed his first five shots from the field and didn’t get into the scoring column until he threw down back-to-back dunks, erasing the surprising goose egg. Nevertheless, Durant is still expected to take the FIBA Worlds by storm, but it’s good to know if he doesn’t have a his greatest shooting game, players like Gay are ready to step in and provide whatever is needed of them.

As for Gay, he’s apparently the team’s official dunker, and boy, he certainly embraced his role by throwing down a number of impressive dunks against the French. However, Gay’s dunk-a-thon didn’t start out with the highest note when one of his tomahawk attempts was thrown back in his face.

No matter, there are always other chances to make up for any unexpected defensive plays:

While the block was indeed nice, there was no blocking Gay’s second dunk attempt. If anyone would’ve tried, their arms would’ve been dunked through the basket as well. From that point on, it was the Rudy Gay dunk show:

He saved some for the second half, as well:

Rudy Gay: Dunker Supreme. As for the rest of his squad, yes, there are still questions about Team USA’s lack of post-player depth, but then again, Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom did just fine. Was it enough to stop the Marc Gasols of the world? We’ll see, but I do like their chances. Their combined athleticism is too much to ignore.

Keep in mind, these opponents have to stop players like Durant and Gay as well, and that’s much easier said than done.

Kevin Durant To Burn FIBA Worlds To the Ground

Kevin Durant

While the non-baseball honks wait patiently for football to start, there’s something else sporting-wise to look forward to: The FIBA World Championship, which goes from August 28th through September 12th in Turkey. Granted, the FIBA Worlds won’t be as popular or fanatically followed like the soccer World Cup — I kind of miss vuvuzelas — meaningful basketball is always a good thing.

It’s true players like LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade and Chris Paul won’t be participating, and because of that, casual fans will probably overlook FIBA’s tournament, but there’s one very, very good reason to tune in when Team USA tries to win the World Championship for the first time since 2002:

The opportunity to watch Kevin Durant burn the FIBA Worlds to the ground.

Further reading after the jump >>

Michael Bradley Saves Team USA’s Bacon

Michael Bradley

While we’re all bitching about Koman Coulibaly — rightfully so, mind you; horrible, horrible call — let’s not forget the large amount of bacon Michael Bradley saved with his awesome equalizing goal. If that goal doesn’t go in, no one in the world would be worrying about Couilbaly and in all likelihood, the US wouldn’t even be discussing advancement, either. A loss to Slovenia would have severely damaged, if not outright ruined, such a lofty concept.

But, Bradley’s finish did find the back of the net, and man, what a goal it was.

Although a win would’ve been nice, USA doesn’t even have that chance without Bradley’s huge equalizer.

Team USA’s World Cup Jersey Is Awfully Sexy

Playboy World Cup

…Thanks to the modelling skills of Playboy model, Danielle Fornarelli. Much like their pictorial of the US Swim Team’s uniforms, Playboy does their best to bring even more beauty to the world’s most beautiful sport, and with Miss Fornarelli, Team USA’s kit has never looked better. According to reports, not only are the World Cup uniforms sexy (when Fornarelli dons them), they’re also environmentally friendly.

…jerseys made entirely from recycled polyester. Each one is produced from up to eight discarded plastic bottles sourced from landfill sites.

Sexy and ecologically friendly? That’s almost too much good news for one person to handle. Yeah, yeah. Enough with the words, give me more Danielle, right? Look no further:

After the jump >>

Team Canada’s Tremendously Tremendous Collision

Team Canada

While the majority of us are still basking in the glow of Team USA’s big time hockey win against Team Canada last night — no, I don’t care if it was only a preliminary round; Team USA hadn’t beaten Team Canada in Olympics Hockey in 50 years — I figured it would be fun to have some more fun at the expense of Team Canada, and thanks to the fine folks who upload at Imgur, we have just thing: An animated gif of that three-man collision from the second quarter.

Because of the image’s size (almost three megabytes), it’s coming up after the jump.

Jump ahead>>