IversonUSA.jpgHmmmm…perhaps Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal were on to something when they cited “security issues” as a reason for not representing their country at the Olympics. Team USA played their final warm up exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday just hours after two bombs exploded in tourist hotels miles from where the team was staying. Two people were killed and 11 more were injured.

Canceling the exhibition game was talked about briefly, but ultimately the game went on. Jim Tooley, executive director of USA Basketball said, "That was an option down the road, but we never fast-forwarded to it because we got our intelligence very quickly."

The NY Times reports:

Bernie Tolbert, the National Basketball Association's vice president for security, was notified at 5 a.m. about the blast and immediately contacted the United States Consulate and the State Department. By 7 a.m., Tolbert said he had determined that the bombings had no connection to the basketball team, nor represented a security risk to the team. United States officials met with the players to brief them on the situation…

New Jersey Net Richard Jefferson, whose parents are both missionaries, had an interesting take on the whole situation. "My whole thing is, look, if these people are really trying to get at us, they are not going to put two random bombs in a random place," Jefferson said. "It's more bad timing of us being here than people trying to get at us."

Coach Larry Brown added: "We were all a little uneasy about it because most of the guys had family here. The people here handled it great, which made us feel pretty secure."

As for the game, Team USA fought for an 80-68 victory in front of a very hostile crowd over a Tukey squad featuring Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu. The game was close throughout until the US used their strong play in the fourth quarter to pull away.

Tim Duncan only missed two shots on his way to 25 points and 11 rebounds. Allan Iverson and Jefferson added 13 and 11 points respectively.
Despite the media continually declaring that the sky is falling regarding our countries basketball mastery, Team USA has looked better and better in each of their exhibition games. Opposing teams will have serious matchup problems with Duncan, Iverson and LeBron James. If the US can exploit these matchups, play good team defense and hit some jumpers, they should be able to bring back the Gold.