WASHINGTON (Sporting Alert) — Team USA recovered from a poor start to beat Brazil 80-69 in an Olympic basketball warm-up game in front of President Barack Obama in Washington, on Monday night.
“You have dreams about being in the NBA. You have dreams about making the game-winning shot at the buzzer. You never have dreams about having the president actually watching you play, because you don’t think it’s possible,” said Miami Heat star LeBron James.
“It’s definitely humbling, to see him here, the first lady and their kids here to watch us play. Really, it’s amazing.”
James scored 14 points in the final period to end the game with 30 points, but he and his USA teammates struggled to get going early in the game.
Kevin Durant finished with 11 points and starting point guard Chris Paul added 10, as no other USA players reached double digits in scoring.
“We did not have defensive intensity (early in the game); if this team doesn’t have that, we’re going to get scored on,” USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewsk said.
“I mean 27 points in (the first) ten minutes, and 42 in (the final) 30. It’s a huge difference.
“We’re going to have to — if we win the gold medal, it will be because of how well we play defensively. To win this game like that I think is a good learning experience for our group.”
Center Tyson Chandler, who only had three points and one rebound in his 19 minutes, added: “I think we just had a slow start, missing shots, some shots that we make every single day in practice.
“But the good thing about tonight is they showed us some looks that we haven’t seen so far and we’re learning defensively from it, and we’ll make shots.”
Meanwhile, Anderson Varejao led the way for Brazil with an all-round performance of 12 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, while Alex Garcia topped scored with 14 points, Marcelo Huertas had 11 points and 13 assists and Leandro Barbosa finished with 10 points in the defeat.
“The USA has a great team and this was a very good test for us,” said Varejao. “From the beginning we came out and hustled on defense, and executed well on offense.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game. Our size was a factor we used it to our advantage. Our height can be a key factor not only against the U.S., but other opponents in the future.
“This game will be a learning experience, and we will build from this.”