Down underdogs next for dominant US men

By Brian Mahoney
Associated Press / August 19, 2008
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BEIJING - The United States men's basketball team put away Dirk Nowitzki and Germany in a hurry yesterday, completing an undefeated march through pool play with a 106-57 victory.

Not since the Dream Team dominated 16 years ago has a team looked this unbeatable. The Americans (5-0), who won their pool games by 32.2 points and averaged 103 points, move on to a quarterfinal meeting tomorrow with Australia, the only team they haven't been able to blow out.

"We feel like we're playing very well right now, but you have to keep in mind it's single elimination," Kobe Bryant said. "You can't afford any slip-ups."

The US led by only 7 points midway through the fourth quarter of an 87-76 exhibition victory in Shanghai two weeks ago over an Australian team that didn't have starting center Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was resting a sore right ankle.

It's hard to imagine a repeat of that semi-Shanghai surprise with the way the US has played in Beijing. "Nobody is going to beat them," said Germany's Chris Kaman, who managed just 6 points.

Dwight Howard scored 22 points. LeBron James had 18, 16 in the first half, and the Americans put three other players in double figures.

Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks All-Star, scored 14 points for Germany (1-4), which completed a disappointing Olympics. The Germans looked like contenders in a 95-66 rout of Angola but then dropped four straight.

Yesterday's games completed the brackets for the medal rounds. The US, winner of Group B, would face the winner of Argentina-Greece in the semifinals if it beats Australia. In the other bracket, Group A winner Lithuania meets China, and Spain faces Croatia, with the winners advancing to a semifinal.

Vasileios Spanoulis and Ioannis Bourousis each scored 19 points to lead Greece (3-2) to a 91-77 victory over China. Yao Ming led China (2-3) with 18 points.

Luis Scola scored 37 points for Argentina (4-1) in its 91-79 victory over already eliminated Russia (1-4). Australia (4-1) received 23 points from Bogut in its 106-75 victory over Lithuania (4-1).

Bogut has one game plan to beat the Americans.

"Shoot 100 percent," he said.

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