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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Orlando Overcomes Slow Start to Rout Team China All-Stars

Playing for the second time in 24 hours, the Orlando Magic started out looking every bit as jetlagged as they must feel before rallying to post a 116-92 victory over the Team China All-Stars in the NBA China Games 2007. Team China took a 12-3 lead in the first 4:47, holding the Magic without a field goal during that span. Dwight Howard answered with a monster dunk on the next possession and within four minutes the score was tied. By the end of the quarter, Orlando led 24-18 and it was apparent that the Chinese team had no chance. Howard played just 14 minutes, finishing with 12 points. No Orlando starter played more than 21 minutes. Backup point guard Carlos Arroyo led Orlando with 25 points, nine assists and four steals. Orlando's final game on the China tour is a rematch against Cleveland, which will be televised by ESPN2 at 12:30 A.M. this Saturday.

The Chinese team did not have the services of Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian--each of whom is participating in NBA training camps--so calling this outfit an "All-Star" squad is almost as fraudulent as the new TV advertisement that describes J.J. Redick as the greatest shooter of all-time (he followed up his 1-6 effort yesterday versus Cleveland with a 2-9 clunker versus a completely outmatched opponent). Olumide Oyedeji, who played in the NBA for parts of three seasons between 2000 and 2003, led the Team China All-Stars with 25 points. Wang Zhi Zhi, the first NBA player from China, had 16 points and seven rebounds. He made four three pointers, including two during China's scoring burst at the start of the game.

During the NBA TV telecast, commentator Alaa Abdelnaby talked about the adjustment that Yi Jianlian will have to make as an NBA rookie who is used to playing under FIBA rules. Abdelnaby experienced that transition in reverse, finishing his career overseas after playing several seasons in the NBA: "Going overseas to play in Europe, learning to play under FIBA rules took me a long time. It took about five or six months to adjust and about one good year to get my confidence and really feel good out there on the floor." In other words, it is not an excuse to cite the different rules and different officiating styles when talking about why Team USA did not win gold medals in the most recent Olympics and FIBA World Championships. Although NBA teams still hold a talent edge over their FIBA counterparts, the gap has narrowed to the point that better familiarity with the rules enables the very best FIBA teams to compete with Team USA squads that--in previous years--have been haphazardly thrown together just prior to big FIBA events. Under Jerry Colangelo's direction, USA Basketball has implemented a long-term program that is enabling a core group of players to work together to become familiar with how to play effectively as a group in FIBA events. We got a taste of the results of this in the FIBA Americas tournament and that success will carry over to next year's Olympics in China.

posted by David Friedman @ 6:06 PM

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