Team USA has gotten themselves a lot of attention over the weekend with numerous players predicting that their current team could have defeated the 1992 Dream Team. But for the first quarter of U.S.A.’s 80-69 victory over Brazil, it seemed like they had no right to make such guesses.
The Brazilians came out firing in the first quarter as they held two 10-point leads in the quarter, as Marcelo Huertas (12 assists), former Spur Alex Garcia, and current San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter held team USA to just seven points early in the game.
Then came a substitution from USA’s bench as Kevin Durant (11 points), Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook came in, made some defensive plays, and got the game down to four points. But it was Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao, Huertas, and Splitter who were able to build another 10-point lead as they ended the first quarter leading 27-17.
Followed was the second quarter, where team USA turned into a defensive monster.
At first the Americans were hoisting numerous 3-pointers as they missed shot-after-shot, but then their defense suffocated and swarmed Brazil into 12 turnovers and limited the Brazilians to just five points in the quarter. On offense, the Americans remembered that they have arguably the most athletic players in the world as they began finishing alley-oops and drives to the basket.
The US took a 37-32 lead into halftime after outscoring Brazil 20-5 in the quarter. By halftime, LeBron James had 13 points, he was just getting started.
In the third quarter, the US was able to build a 13-point lead, but Huertas wouldn’t let the Brazilians succumb so easily as he found open teammates with crowd pleasing passes and also drove and knocked down shots himself. The Americans took a 59-51 lead into the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Brazilians cut the lead to six points, but in the end, James’ 17-second half points were just too much as the US held on for the win and stayed undefeated in pre-Olympic qualifying play at 2-0.
Splitter finished the game by logging 20 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting, and grabbing six rebounds.
The U.S.’s next game will take place on Wednesday as they face Great Britain in Manchester, Great Britain. The 2012 London games are less than two-weeks away.