Only this time,
it’s personal

Aug 15, 2006 10:07 PM

Finally, we’re serious about restoring world order in basketball. Hopefully, it’s not too late.

Not since the famed Dream Team has the USA been committed to the cause of showing who’s in charge of the Pacific rim when the world championships begin this week in Tokyo.

Las Vegas was a breath of fresh air after three easy blowout victories, along with a scary four-point escape over Brazil in China and a dinged up Carmelo Anthony. At least the passion was still there.

Now, we’ll have to see if that’s enough.

Certainly, all our acronyms and nicknames are in order. D-Wade, Melo, King James are cool. Even Coach K has his game face on. We may be in the mood for football, but this world basketball championship promises to be the most competitive and compelling event. Much better than the Olympics, because we have something to prove.

And, that’s great from a betting standpoint. No longer is the USA a lock to win world titles. There are standout NBA players from all over the globe competing for their respective countries.

Here’s just a sample:

ARGENTINA

Manu Ginobili (Spurs).

AUSTRALIA

Andrew Bogut (Bucks)

BRAZIL

Leandro Barbosa (Suns)

CHINA

Yao Ming (Rockets)

FRANCE

Boris Diaw (Suns), Tony Parker (Spurs)

GERMANY

Dirk Novitzki (Mavs)

PUERTO RICO

Carlos Arroyo (Magic)

SPAIN

Pau Gasol (Grizzlies)

However, basketball is our game and it must be protected. We disgraced ourselves in the worlds last go-around and it’s time to settle the score. Hopefully, the inspired play will interest bettors enough to keep the Vegas books making positive cash flow in the wake of what should be another monster NFL season.

Caesars Palace has USA a 2-5 favorite to win the championship. The Americans are grouped in Pool D along with Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Italy, China and Senegal. We shouldn’t have much trouble advancing to the quarterfinal round, but Argentina, Spain, France, Germany and Lithuania are all legitimate contenders.

It’s hard to imagine a team with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Shane Battier, Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Antuan Jamison, Kirk Hinrich and down the road Kobe Bryant losing to anyone. Even without Shaq and Allen Iverson on the squad, these are the present stars of the NBA for at least the next five years.

One thing is clear. The world championships are no longer an arena for the USA to just show up and win. The Americans are likely to be heavy favorites in the game lines, raising the chance of value taking France, Spain, and Argentina with the points. Heck, Brazil only lost by four.

At least for hoops junkies, the worlds should be a good show.