The United States returned to the court and rolled to another decisive victory over Angola in a major international competition.
Bringing back memories of the 1992 Olympics and even the Beijing Games from two years ago when the Americans claimed big wins against the African champions, Mike Krzyzewski’s USA played for the first time since their big Group B win over Tunisia on Thursday and claimed a 121-66 victory to stay unbeaten in the FIBA World Championship.
Unlike their African brothers Tunisia, who only trailed 39-33 at half-time against Team USA, Angola never mounted a serious challenge.
The Americans had a stranglehold on the contest by the end of the first quarter.
Everything unraveled quickly for Angola, who only trailed 12-7 after a three-ball from Angola’s Joaquim Gomes.
The tournament favorites replied with a Kevin Durant lay-up that sparked a 10-0 run.
Chauncey Billups, who led the USA with 19 points, hit one of his five three-pointers in that run while Durant also stopped and popped from long range to make it 22-7.
Gomes, who had a game-high 21 points, stopped the rot for Angola with a jumpshot but the Americans quickly got into transition and Odom scored at the other end to make it 24-9.
By the end of the frame, the lead was 20 and the advantage ballooned to 65-38 by half-time.
Roberto Fortes did come off the bench to provide Angola fans with a few thrills, hitting all three of his three-pointers before the break.
The USA got back-to-back shots from the arc by Derrick Rose to start the second half and pulled away for a decisive victory.
While the Angolans stayed on the court to receive good-bye applause from the crowd since their tournament was over, the Americans left the court in a good mood.
Durant and Gay even playfully slapped Mascat – the mascot of the FIBA World Championship – in the head before running to the locker room.
Far more serious and exiting times await the USA, who will face either Russia or New Zealand in the Quarter-Finals.
Angola head coach Luis Magalhaes : “We played against a great team, great players, great coach, great organization. It was a very strong team for us and we could have done a little bit better but my players tried their best.”
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski : “We have great respect for Angola. I coached against them at the Olympics and they played us a great game. We showed some of that game to my players and they responded. We were very unselfish, we had 30 assists. We stayed aggressive for the whole game. The couple of days of practice really helped us. We played like we practiced which is the best a coach can ask for.”
Angola’s Joaquim Gomes : “Angolan people should be proud of what we have done in this tournament. For us to play at the World Championship and compete against top teams is very important and I believe, with the exception of today’s game, that we have done a good job, winning two games.
USA player Eric Gordon : “It was good for us to have a good win like this. it shows how hard we have been playing and we just get ready for the next one. (We wanted to be) really good on offense but really be tough on defense and that’s what we did. We really got after it and created a lot of turnovers, we just wanted to have a good start.