Move over Phelps, here comes Basketball Team USABy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO, California—Swimmer Michael Phelps and his quest for the most Olympic medals in history, and Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human, are billed as the marquee names of the 2012 London Olympics.
But the United States men’s basketball team is likely to end up as the main attraction when Britain’s version of the “greatest show on earth” unfurls late this month.
Raring to defend the gold medal from Beijing in 2008, Basketball Team USA, according to drum beaters, is the most athletic crew formed for the Olympics.
Team chair Jerry Colangelo says there is “fair comparison” between this year’s Team and the 1992 “Dream Team,” arguably the greatest squad ever assembled in organized basketball.
The current team’s confidence is so sky-high that guard Kobe Bryant ratchets up the contrast one notch. He says the London lineup that includes him can beat the now legendary Barcelona Olympics team led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley, among others.
“It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out,” said the Black Mamba, not a shrinking violet when it comes to sharpening the competitive edge of the current crop of cage Olympians.
Kobe told scribes during the freshly-formed team’s first practice games last week that Jordan and company would have the size advantage. But what the 2012 team lacks in size, it makes up for athleticism and tons of it, said Bryant.
The Los Angeles Laker said although the 2012 team is missing some of its best players due to injury, it’s still expected to dominate the Olympics basketball tournament— the NBA’s showcase of its world-class players this summer.
Kobe says this year’s edition is vastly more versatile and athletic than the team 20 years ago, when Johnson and Bird were almost at the twilight of their careers.
Not in the lineup due to various hurts are Derrick Rose, La Marcus Aldridge and key Beijing campaigners Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
That leaves Tyson Chandler as the only legitimate center in a team crowded with point guards. But Kobe insists the team has enough depth, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski agrees that the team has plenty of experienced guys “from which to draw to make the right decisions” on the hard court in London.
Here’s the Team USA 2012 of veteran NBA campaigners: Bryant, NBA Finals MVP LeBron James, Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Deron Wiliams, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony.
Ranged against the US in London are teams likewise laden with NBA talent and enough grit to get going and knock off the Americans. These include 2004 gold medalist Argentina, bannered by Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola; the Spanish national team, last year’s silver medalist led by the Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, and NBA shot blocking king Serge Ibaka; and Brazil, powered by Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao.
Argentina, Spain and Brazil are the world’s best exponents of Olympic or international brand of basketball, a new commodity to some USA team members.
Among others, Olympic basketball has a five-foul substitution limit, wider lanes, shorter three-point lines, and is more tolerant of physical play.
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His days as a collegiate, national and PBA star gave him glory. His desire to serve after basketball frittered his opportunities big time.
Now, Jose Bernardo Yango, after two terms as a member of the Nueva Ecija provincial board, is saddled with financial challenges. His wife, Joy, her kidneys failing, has to go through hemodialysis three times a week.
JB tells me he is grateful for the support of family and some friends, including his namesake Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and former senator and now sports-talk host Freddie Webb.
Should former teammates and basketball colleagues wish to contact JB, he can be reached at 0927-8442506.
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