Team USA finally got a breather on Monday and brought up memories of the good ol' days of 1992 as it crushed overmatched Angola 89 - 53 and assured themselves a spot in the quarterfinals of the basketball competition. Tim Duncan led the team in scoring with 15 points in just 13 minutes of playing time.
Depending on the results of Monday's late games, the US will play Spain, Argentina or Italy on Thursday.
The Angolans trailed the Americans by 36 points entering the fourth quarter. Things got so one-sided that Emeka Okafor, who had played a total of just two minutes in the U.S. team's first four games, was on the floor for the entire fourth quarter. Unsurprisingly, he failed to score.
This game was a marked contrast to the loss the US suffered on Saturday to Lithuania. Although Team USA played well in that game, their defense let them down in the fourth qurter as former University of Maryland point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius hit three straight three pointers to put the game away.
Once again, Gothamist places the blame for that loss on head coach Larry Brown, specifically his refusal to play LeBron James at all in the second half. Brown's failure to adopt his game plan to stop opposing point guards is a glaring weakness for the US team and figures to be exploited once the medal round begins later in the week.
It's nice to see other media outlets agreeing with Gothamist. We liked this thought from ESPN.com's Jim Caple the best:
After the United States played listlessly against Puerto Rico, coach Larry Brown went out of his way to emphasize that a coach can't "coach effort." Which is odd. I always thought motivation was precisely a coach's No. 1 priority.
Despite equaling their loss total in the last 15 Olympiads, Team USA is confident it can win the gold.
"I know we keep saying it, but we are getting better," Richard Jefferson said. "We're understanding what Coach wants, the way each other plays. Our defense and offense is getting better, guys are shooting the ball better, including myself, and I still think we're going to be the team to beat."