The games finally count.
After several weeks of workouts and exhibition games, Team USA beings play today in the FIBA World Championships when they take on Croatia at the Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey at 12:00PM ET. The live broadcast will be on ESPN Classic and online at ESPN3.com. A taped-delay broadcast will air on ESPN2 at 11:00PM ET on Saturday night.
Pacers forward Danny Granger and former North Central/IU star Eric Gordon add some local flavor to the international hoops event. The U.S. team as a whole lacks much top-shelf NBA talent but there is more than enough athletic and talented players to bring home the gold. Defense will have to be the calling card and they could easily catch a loss if the perimeter shots aren't falling.
But as they progressed together through August, it appears that Coach Mike Krzyzewski know what kind of team he has and how he has to use the roster. Getting off to a good start against Croatia to develop some positive momentum and confidence would set the tone for Team USA to track down that gold.
Keep an eye on Ante Tomic for Croatia, not only one of my favorite names in the international game, but also a solid, young 7-footer for Croatia.
After the jump, a few links of interest with stories about the games in Turkey and a long-distance interview of Danny Granger.
PACERS: Granger ready for World games to begin
Conrad Brunner used some intermediaries to interview Danny Granger whose responses were a bit short of thorough. Best answer: Q. What impact do you believe this experience will have on you as an NBA player? A. A great impact. It shows you how other successful players do things, how they interact, their work ethic and what-not. You always can learn something from other players.
Group B - New-look USA face strong opposition
Team USA is the favorite to emerge from Group B. Here's a closer look.
Acrobats, accolades, et al: Team USA in Turkey - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN
Chris Sheridan reports on the opening ceremonies and Team USA's final prep for their opening game against Croatia.
USA Basketball: USA Ready For Worlds To Tip
U.S. team itching to tip things off in Turkey.
Sheridan: Team USA is gold worthy
Chris Sheridan acknowledges Team USA's flaws but still thinks they have enough to win the gold medal in Turkey.
CLIPPERS: Gordon Enjoys the International Experience
Here's a story on Eric Gordon's experience thus far with Team USA.
Plenty at stake as U.S. team heads into World Championship | NBA.com
John Schuhman analyzes Team USA on the eve of the tournament.
Team USA Notebook: Center No Big Deal for Versatile Lamar Odom
Chris Tomasson looks at the major role Lamar Odom will play in the front court for Team USA.
Team USA's three biggest challengers at FIBA Worlds
Sean Deveney looks at the teams the U.S. squad will have to go through to win the gold.