Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Team Gets a Lift Pounding Brazilians Olympians Make Up for Shoddy Opener

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Team Gets a Lift Pounding Brazilians Olympians Make Up for Shoddy Opener

Article excerpt

Brazil's creaky Oscar Schmidt is the leading scorer in Olympic basketball history. But he has another plume he values more, even if it has unleashed chaos on the rest of the basketball-playing world.

His 46 points in Brazil's victory over the U.S. men's team in the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis illuminated flaws in the foundation of America's dominance of the sport - flaws that became glaring when the U.S. men's team was relegated to a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics.

"It was a disgrace; we shamed our country," said David Robinson, who was on that 1988 team. He added, "The one thing I remember is going up to get the medal. Guys didn't even want to go up to the stand."

When Team USA also failed to claim the 1990 world championship, an epidemic was at hand and the demise was official - and the notion of the Dream Team, which would be culled from National Basketball Association rosters, became a reality.

And so what if that reality flogged Schmidt and Brazil 109-68 in an exhibition game on Sunday at Gund Arena? After the game, Schmidt hoped to get autographs for his son and beamed at the thought that his efforts helped bring about the thinking - if not panic - that spawned the Dream Team.

"We are very proud of that," said Schmidt, now 38, who led Brazil with 21 points Sunday. "It's beautiful. It's beautiful to see the NBA players playing."

Particularly after its unsightly performance against the U.S. 22-and-under team Saturday in Detroit, where the Dream Team lollygagged to a 17-point halftime deficit before winning 96-90.

That was disconcertingly close, considering the 1992 prototype had pulped its opponents by an average of 43.8 points. Still, coach Lenny Wilkens said he considered Saturday's game a blessing in disguise - and, indeed, Team USA played with far more concentration, drive and force Sunday.

"In terms of strengths, it's difficult to talk about strengths without belaboring the facts," Brazil coach Ary Vidal said through an interpreter. "You just have to say their name, and there are 12 of them."

Before a crowd of 20,562, the Americans outscored Brazil 64-20 in the lane and 38-5 on fast breaks. …

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