LONDON: It was 20-years ago that the original Dream Team was introduced to the world with the 116-48 destruction of Angola. The United States women’s basketball team got their shot at the African nation at the London Olympics yesterday, and were no less charitable.
While Sue Bird will never be mistaken for Larry Bird or Diana Taurasi with Michael Jordan, coach Geno Auriemma believes this could be the finest collection of talent the U.S. women’s basketball team has ever put on Olympic hardwood as the Americans rolled to a 90-38 win to remain on course for a fifth straight gold medal.
The win by the American women against the overmatched African champions was likely to be forgotten before they returned to the athletes’ village. But the Dream Team’s blowout of the Angolans to kickoff the 1992 Barcelona Olympic basketball tournament continues to resonate two decades later.
For Angola women’s basketball coach Anibal Moreira, a member of the 1992 squad that was thumped by the Dream Team, the evening provided a vivid flashback and a rush of familiar emotions.
“We decided we wanted to enjoy the game because we understand the difference in the standard of the U.S. team from ourselves,” Moreira told reporters. “We feel a lot of pride to have the opportunity to play against such a team that are the idols of many of our players.
“We tried to give our very best and managed it up to a certain point. We tried to get as many points as we could. We hoped to get 50 points but didn’t quite make it.
“We are very proud to have had the opportunity to play against the Olympic champions.”
Played in front of less than a capacity crowd, the contest lacked the fire and sense of history of 20-years ago when what is widely regarded as the greatest collection of talent ever assembled on one sporting team, launched their gold medal drive in a tournament that many believe changed the face of the sport.
There were no show-boating antics, no thundering dunks and no rough-and-tumble play under the basket by the American women, who for stretches appeared to sleepwalk through the contest.
But the Angolan women, playing in their first Olympics, were never a threat to derail the Americans, who ran their Games winning streak to 35.
“I agree with what our opponents have said because it was obvious there was a difference in the level of talent, the gap was really, really wide,” said Auriemma.
“It’s important in a game that you know there is that disparity that you just do the things you need to do to be a better team, work hard, make sure we get the kind of ball movement we want, the shots we want.”