|http://sports.sina.com.cn 2004年08月26日 22:34 新浪体育|
There are no more excuses for Team USA. No more chances to fix problems with one more game. No more efforts that can fall just short.
The medal round begins on Thursday against Spain, and the inconsistent Americans realise a defeat now will end their hopes of a medal in Athens.
Spain are led by NBA star Pau Gasol, came through their group unbeaten and play an NBA-style game - all reasons for concern for the USA's head coach Larry Brown.
"They're good. They've got probably one of the best players in the world in Gasol. Their power forward (Jorge) Garbajosa is probably as good as most power forwards in our league. They can shoot the ball. They're deep and well coached. They're very experienced. They have just a terrific team."
Already, this year's so-called Dream Team has earned several dubious honours, including becoming the first United States squad featuring NBA players to lose an Olympic match and the first American team ever to finish lower than top spot in their opening group. But they remain confident and also be cautious.
"Yeah, the sense of urgency is there. We understand that if we lose a game, then we can't win a gold medal. Obviously, for forty minutes, we're going to play hard and give it our all. We don't have any minutes or seconds to lose. So, we're going to go fight for forty minutes and see what happens."
"It's going to be stepped up, but no, no one's said it. If you're here at this point on this team and you don't understand that, there's something wrong with you. This is the medal round, we understand it's win or go home and we're going to bring as much as we have tomorrow."
The time for wake-up calls has passed, and if they sleepwalk into Thursday's game, Team USA will earn one more unenviable distinction.... the first US men's basketball team ever to leave an Olympics without a medal around their necks.