The last time Carmlo Anthony and company met the Greeks in an international tournament, things did not go well for the Americans. Greece stunned the U.S. in the 2006 world championships and it's a memory that Anthony obviously hasn't shaken yet.
"We've been waiting for this game the last two years," Carmelo Anthony says. "We let that (2006) game slip out of our hands and they know that, they know they stole a game from us."
I can still remember seeing highlights of that game from '06 and being shocked. The Americans' defense was absolutely shredded by the Greeks' continuous motion on the floor. As Kelly Whiteside of USA Today pointed out, Greece ran the pick and roll 42 different times during that game. If the U.S. wants to avenge the loss later today, the team will have to figure out a way to stop the play that Karl Malone and John Stockton made famous.
I think a lot of the burden in trying to stop the pick and roll is going to fall on two players in particular. Tayshaun Prince and Kobe Bryant. Prince was not one the roster during that infamous '06 game, and you could argue that he was added to the roster specifically to play defense against a perimeter-oriented team like the Greeks.
Prince got a few extra minutes during the Angola game on Tuesday and I think that was because Coach K wanted to prepare him for today's match-up. The Kentucky product is one of the best defenders in basketball and the Olympic stage will give him a chance to showcase his skills to the world.
Bryant will also be key today because he has the speed and physicality to muscle up to the Greeks on the perimeter. Like Prince, he did not play for the '06 team, so his presence on the floor can only be viewed as an added bonus for the Americans.
In order to pull away in this game though, Kobe must find his shot from behind the arc. As the article points out, Bryant is just 1-for-15 from behind the three-point line. The U.S. needs the Lakers' star to drain open threes so that the floor opens up for Dwight Howard to post-up down low.
It will be interesting to see how the Americans come out to start the game today, considering it took them almost the entire first-half to get going against Angola. If the team comes out strong in the first quarter, that could spell doom for the Greeks, but if the Americans come out flat and let them hang around, it could be another replay of the game in '06.
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