The US was favored to win this game by 55.5 points and while the score shows they weren’t far from this mark, the US struggled for much of the first half. Sports writers around the world (including myself) who predicted the US would never trail in this game were quickly proven wrong, forced to watch the US make up ground multiple times within the first quarter. As Tunisian Forward Ben Romdhane banged inside while fellow teammates drained open three point shots, the US failed to make anything from beyond the arc and showed little to no defensive intensity. By the end of the first quarter the US only led by six. This scenario felt both shocking and yet familiar. Unfortunately, the US has now formed an official trend of lacking focus in the first quarter, seen against France and multiple exhibition games.
Into the second quarter shooting woes continued as the US connected on only 2-12 three point attempts. Romdhane remained strong even requiring double teams to slow him down. The US second unit seemed to be the boost needed, going on an 11-0 run to conclude the quarter. Still, viewers were left wondering if the game would prove to be much closer than imagined.
Due to the starters lazy first half performance the bench continued to play come the start of the third quarter. Their defensive prowess proved to be the game changer as defensive rebounds produced easy transition baskets. The US became invincible on the open court and with it came one spectacular dunk after another. In the midst of all these breath taking plays, players and spectators were given another reason to become speechless. In an contested lay up attempt Kevin Love appeared to injure his knee and shortly after stumbled to the sideline. The US continued to widen its lead while cameras remained focused in on trainers rubbing Love’s knee. With every horrific scenario running through the minds of Wolves and basketball fans alike the US finished the quarter strong finishing 15 of 18 from the field.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, reports from Craig Sager and team trainers stated that Love was ‘fine’ and the injury was being treated with ice as a precautionary measure. It wasn’t long until Love returned to the game nailing several open three pointers and finishing the game as the team’s leading scorer. With 16 points, Love not only demonstrated his injury was minor but he was more ready than ever to seize an prominent role on this team.
Overall this game revealed nothing we didn’t know before. The US still crushed Tunisia but showed that reliance on 3 point shots may eventually hurt them against bigger teams like Spain or Argentina. However, as long as the US performs on the defensive end they should get easy transition buckets and allow themselves to defeat opponents convincingly.
Player of the Night: Anthony Davis 12 PTS, 3 REBS, 1 BLK
While Love ended the game as the team’s leading scorer, Davis gave audiences a peak into why he will be a force to be reckoned with come Fall. He left the crowd in awe with alley oops only a man of his wing span could finish. With as many minutes in this game as Chandler, Westbrook and Wiliams we may be in store for more of the Brow.