Venezuela, ranked eighth out of ten teams in The Painted Area’s tournament preview, didn’t provide any sustained competition from the opening tip.
Michael Redd and Carmelo Anthony led the scoring with 17 points each.
Redd shot 7-12 from the field and 3-5 on three’s in 20 minutes off the bench. He also added three assists and two rebounds. He played the part of perfect ingredient off the bench, and continued performances like that will make him a prime contender to make next year’s Olympic team.
Jason Kidd set the tone in the first quarter, orchestrating Team USA’s poised offensive attack. He played a step ahead of everyone on the court, swiping the ball from an unsuspecting Venezuelan and delivering perfect no-look passes to Americans sometimes slow to react. Kidd’s superior court presence stood out, essentially putting the game out of Venezuela’s reach in the first five minutes.
Kobe Bryant’s much-anticipated debut for Team USA also went smoothly. Bryant lived up to his vows to play the team game first, dishing out a team-high five assists, along with 14 points, five rebounds, and three steals in just 16 minutes.
Sure, it was only Venezuela, but this version of Team USA reminded more of the classic Dream Teams than recent disappointments.
Up next is the Virgin Islands.