Greetings from Wukesong Gymnasium, where the U.S. men's basketball quarterfinal rout over hopelessly overmatched Australia has yet to begin. The Kareem Hakeem Redeem Team has yet to be seriously tested in this tournament, and that shouldn't change today, especially with Andrew Bogut picking up two quick fouls. (Although the refs could allow Bogut 47 fouls and it wouldn't make a difference, and his team seemed to pep up after he sat down.)
But give the Aussies credit for a game first-quarter, with their motion offense producing plenty of open looks and their height on defense preventing a U.S. dunkfest. They certainly could be leading; the Aussies have missed at least five lay-ups, although Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade also botched an attempted fast-break alley-oop. And the Americans are an embarrassing 5 of 11 from the free-throw line.
As usual, the Chinese crowd is taking the novel approach of cheering for both teams, possibly more for Australia as the score remained tight.
The stands are fairly full, but nothing like they were for China's electric quarterfinal meeting with Lithuania in the past session. That was a playoff-plus environment, despite Lithuania's comfortable 94-68 win; fans were so into the game that they stopped making noise for the cheerleaders. This is more like the NBA regular season, with pockets of empty seats. The cheerleaders are getting ovations again.
(Maryland product Sarunas Jasikevicius was a monster in the previous game, by the way, leading all scorers with 23 points and making 7 of his 8 shots.)
Australian fans chanted "How-ard, How-ard" probably 20 times during Dwight's first trip to the free-throw line. He missed, twice. There is also a massive delegation of Australian athletes here in the stands, and a fair bit of "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" going on.
In style news, David Barlow seems to have a blond-highlighted mohawk, and Matt Nielsen still looks like a caveman.
The Americans have used the second quarter to put several opponents away this month; we'll see if that happens again.