[Live blogging the U.S.-Greece men's basketball game]
Well, this could be interesting. The so-called Redeem Team continues to play as if all the talk of reestablishing international dominance was mere offseason jabber. The Americans have shown no inclination to make a perimeter shot (aside from one Carmelo Anthony three-pointer), are struggling to contain the Greek guards and generally look vulnerable against the team that beat them in the 2006 World Championships. That was clear from Greece's opening possession, when longtime U.S. nemesis Vassilis Spanoulis easily drove to the basket and scored.
The foul situation quickly became alarming for the Americans; starting point guard Jason Kidd racked up three personals in the first two minutes and sat on the bench for the rest of the quarter. There were four team fouls on the U.S. after two minutes, and Kobe Bryant soon picked up an unsportsmanlike call in a loose ball situation.
The U.S. was actually down 11-7 after not boxing out the shooter on a free throw, leading to an easy follow. But, as in previous games, the Americans completely dominated in the open court, with several breakaway layups, and ended the quarter on a 13-5 run.
The vibe could not be more different than it was during the Americans' highly charged opening game against China Sunday night. There were still thousands of empty seats 10 minutes before this game started; the Americans sat relaxed on their bench instead of popping with nervous energy, and the fans who were here went about 95 percent in favor of the Americans. Without Yao on the court, no one can come close to equaling Kobe in the fans' love.
The Greek fan contingent might be small, but it's quite lively. Think of D.C. United's best supporters; they sing loudly, and they don't stop, even when things are going poorly for their squad. But the Chinese fans are overwhelmingly rooting for the U.S.
Bryant scored the first four points for the U.S. after a couple of mediocre performances against China and Angola; after one quarter he led all scorers with six points. Chris Bosh has five.