Sunday, August 20, 2006

USA vs. China

At the start of this game, I knew who was going to win without a doubt (and I was right). The only reason I tuned in was to see how many Yao scored, even though I knew, without a doubt, that he would do well (and he did). But, for whatever reason, I stayed and watched the blowout that I knew was going to happen.

Even in the pre-game warmups the USA players looked tall and strong. The Chinese players looked tentative at best, with only Yao striding confidently. And when the game actually started, it was obvious he was the only who could hang with any of the USA players. In fact, he didn't just hang, he dominated them. He scored 10 of China's 17 points in the first. Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh were no contest for him. The USA made a laughable attempt to put some height on him by putting Brad Miller into the game, but Mr. Softie was no use either. The USA really needs big men, not just hybrid power forwards. When they face a team with a quality big man surrounded by good shooters and passers, they're going to have serious trouble on the inside.

Anyway. With Yao and Wang playing, the CNT actually did worse in the first quarter than when they didn't have them two weeks ago. They were down 15 at the end of the first, compared to just 4 in Guangzhou earlier. The second quarter was much of the same, and I think the Chinese players sort of gave up when they went into the second half down by 25. But with a few key plays by Yao, they actually made a run against the USA, to cut it down to "only" 14, but then Wade took over, and from there the game was over.

I've already said that Yao is much more, forceful and assertive with his team than with the Rockets. He showed it again today throughout the game, but one play really showcased that. He stole the ball (one of America's players threw the ball straight at him), then dribbled all the way up the court (I think he's a better dribbler than all the China guards, he went a whole lot faster than they usually do), crossed over Dwight Howard (bringing back memories of the behind-the-back dribble against Shareef Abdul-Rahim), and finally finished it up with a layup over Battier, and the, it was a charge. I was shocked, his teammates were shocked, and most importantly Yao was furious (and I think Battier lying on the floor was half-unconscious with the shock of it all). He pleaded, argued, and cajoled for the call, but to no avail. How many times have you seen Yao in the NBA shadowing the ref down the court and chewing his ear off?

But I think Battier summed upthe event best by saying this:

I told Yao that was the last time in my career that I would ever take a
charge from him. Not even in practice. I can check that experience off my list.
From now on, we're teammates.

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