After what were described as two lacklustre victories over Iran and Tunisia, the United States responded resoundingly in thrashing Angola 121-66 to reach the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
And Team USA national director Jerry Colangelo was especially pleased that Team USA, which has no players back from the 2008 Olympic gold medal winning side in Beijing, continues to get better.
“Obviously we have to be very pleased with the progress. The first half we had one turnover and 17 assists. We shot the ball well. We were always under control. So that’s very encouraging. We need to build on that,” Colangelo told heinnews after the Angola game, which set up a quarters showdown with Russia.
“(The strong performance) had nothing to do with who we were playing. We just played extremely well.”
When asked if the win over Angola was the best U.S. showing thus far in Turkey, Colangelo said: “Oh for sure. I think the first half was kind of a textbook performance. It’s very encouraging because we do want to build on our performances. What really matters is later in the week. We can’t overlook anyone.”
Assistant coach Nate McMillan was especially satisfied with how the team played a complete game at both ends of the court.
“It was important that we came out tonight and played well. We felt that we haven’t played a 40-minute game. And I feel like tonight we did a better job of establishing ourselves defensively,” McMillan said to heinnews.
“Offensively we only had five turnovers, one in the first half. So we did a better job of taking care of the ball and turning turnovers into points. But we didn’t play the scoreboard. We did a good job playing 40 minutes and being sharp.”
While the lack of turnovers and high number of assists was a positive, U.S. power forward Lamar Odom said the Americans’ forte is and will remain the defense.
“Five turnovers and 30 assists is really great. But in this tournament our goal is to be the best defensive team. And if we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”