Next Up: China & France
Aug. 14, 2010 • New York, N.Y.
After spending a week in Las Vegas competing against each other and the USA Select Team, then another week in New York doing the same, the 2010 USA Basketball Men’s World Championship Team is looking forward to facing new foes.
They’ll finally get their chance today.
“Getting to play against some other competition is going to be cool,” said Kevin Durant. “Everybody’s really anxious for that. I think that at the start of the game we may be a little over-anxious. But I think we’ll slow down. Hopefully we’ll have a good game tomorrow and Sunday.”
The U.S. has an afternoon date with China on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. While it’s just going to be a scrimmage, it’ll give the American men a better taste of international competition.
After whetting their appetite on a little Chinese, the USA’s weekend entrée will be of the French variety.
“I’m looking forward to playing against other countries,” said Chauncey Billups. “We beat up on one another for long enough, played against the Select Team for long enough, so I’m looking forward to getting some new competition.”
Returning to MSG on Sunday, the USA will face France at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) in the first exhibition game of a double-header that features a clash between China and Puerto Rico at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The single-entry ticket that covers both games start at $15 and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com and thegarden.com, by phone at 1-800-4-NBA-TIX, and at the box office at Madison Square Garden.
“The very first thing is we play someone else and that we get a better chance to learn about international rules,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University. “We’re playing an international team, there’ll be tendencies that they use, nuances, the officials, it gives us a great chance to adjust. We’re ready to get going. Our guys are very, very excited about starting this.”
While it’s just a scrimmage and not an official game, it’s interesting to note that the U.S. has never lost to China in World Championship or Olympic play, owning a 5-0 record at the Worlds over the Asian nation. At the Olympics, the U.S. is also 5-0 over China, which finished 2-4 and in eighth place as hosts in 2008.
The last time these two teams met was at the 2008 Olympics when the U.S. opened Olympic play facing host China . The teams played in front of a standing room only Wukesong Arena crowd that included President George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush. An estimated one billion people viewed the game's worldwide telecast. The USA team did not disappoint. Led by 19 points and 7-of-7 shooting from the field from Dwyane Wade, the U.S. thumped China 101-70.
France and the USA haven’t met quite as many times, in fact the last time the teams faced each other at a FIBA World Championship was in 1963, while the teams squared off twice at the 2000 Olympics, including the gold medal game. The Americans have a 3-0 record over France at the Worlds and are 4-0 against the Europeans in Olympic play.
Just because the United States has never lost to China or France in Olympic or FIBA World Championship history doesn’t mean it won’t be competitive. After all, the 2000 Olympic gold medal game was won by just 10 points and France was within four points in the final five minutes.
Additionally, it’s not always about winning. The team is still coming together, the coaches are still trying out different combinations and there’s a lot to learn over the coming days.
“It’s an opportunity to see different combinations and I think also for our guys they’ll see better where we stand in building a team,” added Coach K. “A big plus for us right now is how (Tyson) Chandler and (Lamar) Odom are playing. It gives us a great one-two punch at the five position, which we were really worried about coming into this because we didn’t know where Tyson would be coming off of being out and then we didn’t know where Lamar would be either having had a long season like that; but both of them have given us some strength there at the five.”
USA-FRANCE SERIES HISTORY
- The USA-France exhibition in New York will be the first matchup between the two nations since the gold medal game in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where the U.S. edged France 85-75 to claim the Olympic gold medal.
- France, currently ranked #15 in the world by FIBA, placed fifth in the 2009 EuroBasket after defeating Croatia 69-62 in the 5th/6th place game.
- Since NBA players became eligible to participate in FIBA competitions, the USA has compiled a 1-0 win-loss record versus France in official FIBA competitions.
- 2000 Olympics (Gold Medal Game) 8/10/00 USA 85, France 75
- The scheduled Aug. 15 USA-France exhibition at Madison Square Garden is the first exhibition game between the two teams since the Dream Team defeated the French National Team in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in 1992.
- Monte Carlo, Monaco 7/21/92 USA 111, France 71