COLOGNE, Germany (AP) ï¿½ The U.S. men’s Olympic team did more than merely lose. It was embarrassed and exposed like never before in international competition.
Losing an exhibition game for the first time when using NBA players, the Americans were completely outclassed by lightly regarded Italy, never even making it close in the fourth quarter of a 95-78 upset Tuesday.
“This is a wakeup call for us,” Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson said. “I think we need something like this to understand it’s not going to be easy.”
The Americans were sloppy with the ball and couldn’t handle Italy’s zone defenses and 3-point shooting. Italy not only made 15 from behind the arc but also showed superior ball movement and poise in handing the Americans their most lopsided defeat since pros began competing in 1992.
“They’re going to be in for a lot of lessons for the next few weeks,” U.S. coach Larry Brown said. “It’s a young team, and it’s a different game internationally.”
Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony led the Americans with 17 points, and two-time NBA MVP Tim Duncan added 15.
Italy, whose roster is filled entirely by players from that country’s league, was led by Giacomo Galanda’s 28 points and Gianluca Basile’s 25.
While the Italians were fifth at the Sydney Olympics, the United States is unbeaten at the Summer Games and in Olympic qualifying since NBA players were allowed in 1992, taking four straight gold medals. It will seek a fifth in a row at the Aug. 13-29 Athens Olympics.
But the United States is sending its youngest team to the Olympics ï¿½ the average age is 23.50 ï¿½ since the door opened for NBAers.