Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008 | 7:19 a.m.
Let the real basketball games begin.
The U.S. national team cruised by its second Olympic foe in a row Tuesday when it defeated Angola, 97-76, at Wukesong Indoor Stadium in Beijing.
Dwyane Wade led the Americans in scoring, with 19 points, for the second consecutive game.
Angola guard Carlos Morais led everyone with 24 points.
If they gave out moral medals in China, Angola would get one because coach Albert “Ginguba” Carvalho gave his squad the main goal of not losing by more than 40 points.
Center Chris Bosh converted a dunk to open the fourth quarter that enabled the U.S. to widen its lead to 30 points, at 83-53. However, Angola finished with a flourish, scoring 15 of the game’s final 21 points.
Now, the opponents figure to get tougher as Team USA plays Greece, which ousted America from a semifinal in the 2006 World Championship in Japan, on Thursday.
That kept Team USA from playing in a third consecutive international final – the 2002 and 2006 worlds, and the 2004 Athens Games – a record for red, white and blue futility.
Greece should be the first real test for the U.S. in a long time. It trained in Las Vegas for 87 days in 2006 and 2007, which culminated in a thrashing of all foes in the FIBA Americas tournament.
The U.S. went 10-0 in that event, beating everyone by an average of nearly 40 points and earning a spot in Beijing in the process.
A few weeks ago, the Americans thrashed Canada, 120-65, at the Thomas & Mack Center in their final Olympic warm-up on their own soil. Four exhibitions, in Macau and Shanghai, tuned them up for Beijing.
Guard Jason Kidd pumped his international record to 45-0 with the victory over Angola.
There are concerns for U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.
First, Team USA has made only 15 of its 46 attempts beyond the 3-point arc. Kobe Bryant is 1-for-15 beyond that line, and Michael Redd, the team’s designated long-range ace, is only 3-for-9.
Second, Carmelo Anthony is 4-for-10 from the field with six fouls. He seems to be distracted and could find himself on the bench as the games become more important.
But Wade is 13-for-15 from the field and appears to be completely recovered from a shoulder injury.
“In the second quarter, we put pressure on them and made them turn it over,” Wade told NBC sideline reporter Craig Sager after the game. “I’m more than back. I’m focused. I have a lot of redemption in me.
“It’s been hard work to get here, but I enjoy hard work. I was written off. Now they have to write me back in the books.”