Luol Deng led all scorers on the night with 25 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists. The Chicago Bulls player, who regularly plays against the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant thinks it was a good practice for the Olympics, especially for his team-mates.
“It was good, we played against the best team and for some of the guys, it was the best competition they have played against. But for 40 minutes, it’s very hard to keep focused, physically you have to be in top shape and you have to be alert, it was good for the players to have that tonight,” Deng said.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu was one rebound off a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds for Great Britain.
For Scottish veteran Robert Archibald, who has said that the Olympics will be his last tournament before international retirement, playing Team USA was a fantastic experience.
“It was a great experience, a lot of fun especially being on the court with those guys. We picked up some things, the score wasn’t what we wanted at the end but it was great to play this team ahead of the Olympics,” Archibald commented.
The pace of the game from the start was intense; Joel Freeland faked James inside for the opening score of the game but that was answered by a baseline dunk from Kevin Durant as both teams got settled quickly.
GB were matching Team USA blow for blow, Sheffield Sharks guard Nate Reinking drained an open three-pointer to pull the Brits to within one at 7-6, but a tough three-point play from Durant followed by a nice turnaround from Kobe Bryant gave the USA an 11-6 lead close to mid-way through the first.
Back-to-back dunks from Pops lifted the sell-out crowd briefly, but Team USA hit back and ended the first up 33-20 on the back of a 10-0 run.
The States added four more points to that run in the second before GB got off the mark with a two-pointer from Deng. GB though struggled to execute their jump shots and the USA were giving them no second chance opportunities.
USA successfully pressed GB and converted easy scores as they maintained their double digit advantage throughout the quarter, highlighted by a dunk in transition by Durant. Deng continued to steady the ship for Great Britain, supported by an aggressive Mensah-Bonsu, who went to the line 12 times in the first half, converting on eight of his attempts. USA led comfortably at the half 55-37.
Deng scored the first points of the third period followed by a nice move inside by Freeland, but USA remained in command and a trademark two-handed slam from LeBron James on the break gave the Olympic gold medal favourites a 75-46 lead.
Great Britain battled on, despite the deficit, and showed no fear against their established opponents and after three, trailed USA 89-55.
The fourth quarter was a formality, GB battled, but USA stepped up a gear, moving up to 102 points off a three from James Harden. From then, Team USA scored three fast break dunks with Great Britain’s offence coming in the form of Leicester Riders forward Andrew Sullivan, as he scored 11 points in just under three minutes.
Team USA were led by Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony, who both hit 19 points in victory.
For box score please click here.
All photos by Mike Shaft
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