NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: Chauncey Billups #4 of the United States drives to the basket against France during their exhibition game as part of the World Basketball Festival at Madison Square Garden on August 15 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Consider this post an open thread in which to discuss Team U.S.A.'s exhibition game against Greece in preparation for the FIBA World Championships, which start Friday. The United States will face the Greek National Team today at noon on ESPN.
Team U.S.A. finalized its roster yesterday. The team features Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook at the guards; Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, and Kevin Love at the forwards; and Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom at center. Notably, Rajon Rondo did not make the team as he elected to leave due to personal reasons, although initial reports said he was cut. SB Nation's Andrew Sharp wonders if Rondo's surprise exit indicates he's a "cancer," while CelticsBlog's Jeff Clark (effectively) says "whatever" to the news.
In any case, Greece is a formidable foe. Given the United States' lack of an inside game, in addition to its spotty outside shooting so far, it's hard to consider the Americans the favorites. And Greece will have a pronounced home-court advantage.
Winning the World Championship automatically secures a bid to the 2012 Olympics, so the forthcoming tournament is not a small-stakes affair.
For more on Team U.S.A.'s pursuit of the gold during the Worlds, I recommend following NBA.com's John Schuhmann, who's covered everything expertly this whole summer. You can find him on Twitter here and read his NBA.com archive here. Additionally, The Painted Area is a solid resource as well, as its Jay Aych has a wealth of knowledge about the international game. Here's his preview of the tournament's Group A, and here's his take on last weekend's exhibitions.
Neither man has weighed in on what bearing Dwight Howard's decision to sit out has on the Orlando Magic's championship chances; Marc Stein has already expressed his belief that Howard's absence will indeed adversely affect them.