Opening up the tournament is BiE’s own (slightly modified) Dream Team Europe, who hosts that original dream team, the 1960 Team USA squad that destroyed all comers in the Olympic Games that year.
Taking a brief look at the rosters before game time, BiE noted that while the 60s were bringing a fearsome twin towers setup of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, the real advantage might be in the backcourt: Dream Team Europe is really bringing only two pure point guards in Tony Parker and Sarunas Jasikevicius, while Hall of Famers Jerry West and Bob Cousy are just the beginning of a deep collection of guards.
And would anyone be able to stop Mr. Triple Double himself, Oscar Robertson? Official game writeup follows the break.
Dream Team Europe came alive in the second half while the 1960 bunch suffered from gaunt outside shooting for a 107-106 Continental win in the opening of the Festivus Invitational. (Link to boxscore expires in 90 days and thus will be unable from April or so.)
In contrast to the game’s finish, the 1960 guards controlled the game early. Team USA’s first 11 points all had Jerry West and/or Adrian Smith scoring or assisting; the 60s had gotten out to an 11-7 lead and Oscar Robertson hadn’t even gotten involved yet. Toni Kukoc and Tony Parker then went on an unanswered six-point run to give Europe its last lead of the game for some time at 13-11.The Big O-Logo duel then led the old guys on a tear, extending the lead out to eight at 23-15 and finished off the first quarter with a 33-24 lead.
Save for a two-minute scoring drought highlighted by some monstrous defense, especially on the parts of Arvydas Sabonis and Pau Gasol splitting time at center, the teams essentially traded baskets for much of the second quarter. Despite Sabonis’ five rebounds and two blocks of Robertson, Dream Team Europe saw Team USA’s lead extended to 62-46; Europe had gone just 7-of-18 for the quarter – and this after starting 4-of-5.
And just to make matters more ignominious for the Europeans, the half ended with a travelling call on Dino Radja.
Alexander Gomelsky sent his team out with clear instructions: Stay out of Chamberlain and Russell’s domain in the middle. No matter; Wilt the Stilt managed to block a Kukoc fadeaway 11 feet out. But once the 60s went up 66-48, Europe started coming back. Drawing three straight fouls on the outside were Dirk Nowitzki, Parker and Kukoc in turn. After contributions from Sarunas Marciulionis and Kukoc again, Andrei Kirilenko’s sweet jam on the feed from Sarunas Jasikevicius made it 68-60 to Team USA.
West again took over for the 60s, putting in seven points and an assist within a 13-2 run. Going into the fourth quarter, it was 84-71; no one, however, not even Team USA coach Red Auerbach were ready for the aerial assault the Europeans were ready to launch in the final stanza.
Sabonis’ emphatic slam with 7:26 remaining marked the first attempt Europe had made in the quarter either from inside the paint or beyond the arc. With a steady diet of close jumpers from everyone – Parker, Nowitzki, Petrovic, Peja Stojakovic, Gasol, Kukoc – Dream Team Europe narrowed the gap to 96-89.
Better yet, Europe soon received its Festivus present: Chamberlain and West going cold. Each missed three shots, Chamberlain’s a result of some great Nowitzki defense (really), and after Parker zipped one right past a fooled West to feed Kukoc for a layup, the Dream Team had knotted up the score at 102 with 1:36 remaining.
In response, West ran down the clock 20 seconds before whiffing on a three-ball, but Wilt beat Dirk and Divac for the board. His own little turnaround also missed, only to be scooped up by Robertson and with the European big man out of position was able to sink the follow off the glass. 1960 Team USA 104, Dream Team Europe 102.
Gomelsky took a time out to sent in options for Petrovic, Kukoc or Parker to shoot from near the perimeter. Eventually, Kukoc was able to draw Parker’s man away and Team France’s hero connected for an and-one. One free throw later and Dream Team Europe had its first lead in 42 minutes.No way were the 60s done, though. Burning just four seconds off the clock, it was Robertson again for two from the right side and another Team USA lead at 106-105.
In the end, though, the hero would be Drazen Petrovic. After eating up 22 seconds, Parker dished one out to the Croatian Jordan, who gave Adrian Smith the Craig Ehlo treatment for the 107-106 lead. Finally, Robertson held the ball a bit too long when the 60s took possession – certainly enough to draw Nowitzki over and the double-team of the German with Petrovic was enough to make the Big O’s shot go amiss.
Parker was named Player of the Game for his 22 points and 10 assists. Four other Dream Team Europeans scored in double figures, as Kukoc and Stojakovic went for 15 apiece; Kukoc also grabbed nine rebounds and gave out eight assists. Marciulionis and Petrovic were each good for 12.
For the 60s, Robertson contributed his usual monster stat line with 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to his credit. West added 20, but together with Smith and Cousy, the big three guards for Team USA went just 13-of-35 on shooting.
Tonight’s game: The 21st Century Dream Team vs. the All-Time Toronto Raptors.