The U.S. men's basketball team has opened its Olympic campaign with a 31-point victory over host China, 101-70. VOA Sports editor Parke Brewer reports from Beijing.
The Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium was overflowing with both fans and the media for this much-anticipated game. And the Chinese, to the delight of the home crowd, even stayed with the heavily favored Americans well into the second quarter because of their accurate three-point shooting.
The U.S. players scored many of their points on electrifying dunks, and it was the slam dunk by Chris Bosh with the score tied at 29 that finally put the Americans up to stay.
"We came out a little tight," said Chris Bosh. "We knew that it was going to be a very emotional game for both teams, especially China playing in front of their home crowd. But we withstood the storm and calmed down, and then we just played a lot better basketball."
Watching the big American victory in person were President Bush, his wife Laura and his father, the former President George H.W. Bush.
Bosh said the team was aware of their presence.
"It was just a thrill to have the leader of our country there," he said. "It was pretty patriotic for us and for the citizens all across the world who are United States citizens."
Both Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were perfect from the field, with Bosh four-for-four and Wade seven-for-seven. Wade was also perfect on all five of his free throws, and led the U.S. team with 19 points. LeBron James had 18, while Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard each scored 13. Yao Ming, China's NBA star of the Houston Rockets, led the home team with 13.
Yao scored the first points of the game on a three-point field goal, and U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, after that, his players contained him very well.
"I thought that the attention we gave Yao early was key," said Mike Krzyzewski. "He made really good plays to get his teammates involved and they hit threes. And more than half their points in the first half were from threes. And we were like one-for-12. I think we ended up one-for-15 before we started hitting some threes."
And the Americans continued to build their lead. The U.S. managed a 12-point lead by halftime (49-37) and surged to a 26-point advantage after three-quarters (74-48). Once again, the final was the USA 101, China 70.