The US basketball team warmed up for their title defence by winning hearts and minds, as well as a warm-up game against the Great Britain team.
The US clinched a comfortable 118-78 victory against the hosts, 10 days short of their opening pool game in the tournament against France.
But they also proved extremely popular victors among a sell-out 17,000 crowd in Manchester, the local fans cheering more loudly for the visitors, in particular the LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, than home players such as the Chicago Bulls All Star forward Luol Deng and emerging big man Joel Freeland.
Premier League footballers Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley, Fabrice Muamba and Jordan Henderson – along with rugby’s Danny Cipriani and boxer Amir Khan – were among the NBA fans who watched the first appearance of the full US international team in this country since the 1948 Olympics.
Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony joint top scored for the Americans with 19 points while Deng showed his international class with a game-high 25 points and Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 12 and nine rebounds.
Outcry as Aussie women fly economy
Meanwhile, Australian basketball officials said they would review travel policies after stinging criticism that the men’s team travelled to London in business class but the women in economy.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.
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