Well, they couldn't revenge the US Soccer loss v. Brazil, so they did then next best thing: Wipe out the bitter memory of their first game in Chile (85-79 over Cuba).
This time, it wasn't even close. Leaping out to a 16-0 lead in the first four minutes, the US never let up on the way to a 101-71 rout of Cuba (though Clay still won't be happy, I'm sure). It got a little sloppy and unfocused in the fourth, when Cuba outscored the US 27-23, but the game was never in doubt, and the US punched their ticket to the 2008 Olympics (and got a really big trophy to boot).
"We came into this game real focused," said Taurasi. "We played them in the first game and we watched film this morning and saw we didn’t play well in that first game. We were offensively and defensively kind of hesitant. Today we came out and played aggressive on both ends and it showed for 40 minutes. The beauty about this team is that any combination of five players out there were confident and it showed on the court. This was definitely a statement tournament for us."Diana put up an impressive line: shooting 50%, she scored 15 points, snagged 12 rebounds, dished 4 assists, and wrassled 2 steals. Tina showed her championship form with 18pts and 6 rebounds. Candace added 12, Katie 15 and Kara 14. You can check out the accumulated state for the team here.
There was great distribution of minutes -- Tina topped everyone with 25 minutes of court time. You've got to believe that everyone playing as much as they did will pay off big dividends in the future. Writes Oscar:
Donovan said team chemistry will play a huge part in the USA's Olympic dreams and she expects players to attend as many of the USA Basketball training camps as they can. USA Basketball will hold four training camps before the team reconvenes before the 2008 Olympics, including an eight-game college tour, a Russian tournament next month and two spring camps.You can check out additional game quotes here.
"I'm going to try to go to every single camp because we know the one thing we lack in comparison to other teams is time together," Bird said. "Getting to know one another on the court, developing chemistry.