NBA stars just too good for poor Tunisians
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 19:57
One could understand why the odds were stacked heavily against Tunisia when they came up against defending champions USA in the men’s basketball competition at the Olympic Basketball Arena in Stratford on Tuesday night.
Listen to this: USA have won 13 of possible 17 gold medals in Olympic basketball; the Americans have taken four out of five gold medals since the international basketball federation (FIBA) first allowed professional players to compete in 1992; Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the US team have each won two gold medals; debutantes Tunisia are the only team at the Olympics without an NBA league player.
The build-up to Tuesday’s game was electrifying, with Tony Parker-led France – boasting six NBA players – stopping Manu Ginobili-powered Argentina 71-65 in the early night match that paved way for the USA vs Tunisia clash from 10pm.
I’ve never been to an NBA game and, being a staunch basketball follower, this was clearly my best outing at these Games so far as we prepare for Kenya’s medal haul to start on the track with tomorrow’s 10,000 metre women’s final.
There was a lively DJ on the deck, exciting court-side announcer and pretty cheerleaders who worked the crowd up during the time-outs and breaks between quarters with well-rehearsed routines.
For a moment, I thought I was at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the celebrated Lakers’ home venue.
And as Lakers’ shooting guard Kobe Bryant’s jump shot opened the game at 2-0, I was tempted to make a call to my basketball colleagues Philip Mwaniki and Fidel Maithya who would have loved to be with me court side, as would DJ Stylez and his crew, to witness Tunisia fight back with a three-pointer from six-foot-six forward Amine Rzig who plays for Egypt’s Al Ahly Club.
Etoile Sportif Sahel’s Makram Ben Romdhane, who scored a game-high 22 points with 11 rebounds, was clearly Tunisia’s most valuable player as the Africa champions led for the last time at 15-12, prompting US coach Michael Krzyzewski to make his first major tactical move, bringing on and entirely fresh line-up of Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala, Deron Williams and Russel Westbrook for Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler.
The tide then swung heavily in favour of the USA who scored 14 unanswered points to lead 15-26, and never looked back, cruising to a 110-63 victory thanks a late heroics of six-foot-eight-inch,19-year-old Anthony Davis of New Orleans Hornets, the tallest player on the court, leading the Americans in an awesome display of dunks, alley loops and an aggressive offensive play.