Playing only for pride at the World Championship of Basketball, Dream Team II was victorious Sunday, but not particularly impressive.
The Americans, already assured first place in their preliminary pool, defeated Brazil 105-82, giving them a 3-0 record at Ontario.While methodically moving toward a gold medal and a world title, Dream Team II is just 1-for-3 in matching the domination of the original Dream Team, which rolled to the 1992 Olympic gold medal without winning by less than 32 points.
Victory is predictable for the U.S. team, made up of 12 NBA All-Stars, but their performance is not.
Brazil (0-3), which has clinched a consolation bracket berth, lost to China in its opening game, and the Chinese subsequently lost to the United States by 55. The Americans beat Spain by just 15 points, but the Spaniards lost to China on Sunday.
The United States led by double figures most of they way. But an inability to hit from outside - the team made just three shots from 3-point distance - kept the Americans from pulling away as they finished far under their average of 123.5 points in their first two games.
The most excitement came in the final 10 seconds when Shaquille O'Neal, who scored 27 points, tossed the ball high on the backboard and then slam-dunked it in, his eighth dunk of the game.
Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Kemp had 15 points apiece and Larry Johnson 12 as inside players dominated. Rolando Ferreira scored 23 points and Paulo de Almeida 19 for Brazil.
Next up for the Americans is Australia (2-1), the second-place finisher in Pool B, in the quarterfinal round-robin Tuesday night.
Five rebound baskets in a span of just four minutes helped the United States open a 29-16 lead, but Maury de Souza's second 3-pointer of the first half and a layup by Rogerio Klafke closed Brazil within eight.
O'Neal scored 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting in a 12-minute first-half stint before going to the locker room for treatment for a stiff back, helping the Americans build the lead to 41-27 with 2:42 left.
After missing its first eight 3-point attempts, Dream Team II finally got a long basket from Derrick Coleman with 1:21 remaining, making it 46-29, but Brazil closed to 48-36 at halftime thanks to a three-point play by Ferreira, who scored 11 first-half points.
The United States steadily increased its lead in the second half, scoring almost at will inside. But the Brazilians, who lost to Dream Team I 127-83 at the 1992 Olympics, never really collapsed, even with a full lineup of young substitutes in the game at the end.
China advanced along with the United States in Pool A with a 78-76 victory over Spain. China (2-1) held Spain (1-2) to two field goals in a 91/2-minute stretch late in the second half and then made six of six free throws in the final minute to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in three World Championship appearances.
Greece (2-1) won Pool D despite losing to Puerto Rico 72-64 on Sunday.
Puerto Rico (2-1) needed to win by five points and Germany, which beat Egypt 78-56, would have moved on if Greece had won or Puerto Rico won by 14 or more. Greece won the three-team tiebreaker and was pool champion with Puerto Rico second and Germany third and thus eliminated from medal contention.
The round-robin quarterfinals begin Monday with Croatia (3-0) playing China and Greece facing Canada (2-1).
On Tuesday, Russia (3-0) meets Puerto Rico in addition to the United States-Australia game.
The top two teams from each four-team quarterfinal pool advance to Saturday's semifinals and the gold-medal game is next Sunday.
Germany 78, Egypt 56
At Toronto, Germany, which had been eliminated from medal contention hours earlier, beat Egypt 78-56 Sunday to close its opening-round play in the World Championship of Basketball.
Germany (2-1) needed Greece to beat Puerto Rico on Sunday or have Puerto Rico win by less than five or more than 14 to advance to the quarterfinals. Puerto Rico beat Greece 72-64 and Germany was the odd team out in the three-team tiebreaker.
Henning Harnisch led Germany with 17 points and Henrik Rodl, a member of North Carolina's 1993 NCAA champions, added 12.
Ahmed Foutouh led Egypt (0-4), which trailed 39-28 at halftime, with 11 points.
Egypt was within 55-45 with 8:14 to play when Germany started to score consistently inside, taking advantage of its size.
Puerto Rico 72, Greece 64
Puerto Rico, needing a five-point victory to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Championship of Basketball, beat Greece 72-64 Sunday at Toronto to eliminate Germany from medal contention.
Puerto Rico (2-1) took the lead it needed at 69-63 on a layup by Jose Ortiz with 2:43 to play. Greece (2-1) advanced as long as it didn't lose by 14 or more points, so once Puerto Rico added three points on free throws over the next 1:40, all Greece wanted to do was make sure the margin didn't approach its number for elimination. That left Germany (2-1) powerless to only sit and watch in the stands.
Germany beat Egypt 78-56 later Sunday, making Greece the champion of the four-team pool by virtue of the a three-team tiebreaker.
Greece led 48-44 four minutes into the second half when Puerto Rico went on a 14-0 run that covered 41/2 minutes. The run started with a 3-pointer by Orlando Vega and ended with his two free throws.
The only time Greece got back within Germany's magic number was with 3:46 to play when Panagiotis Fassoulas hit a shot jumper to make it 67-63.
China 78, Spain 76
At Hamilton, Ontario, China held Spain to two field goals over a 91/2-minute stretch late in the second half and made six of six free throws in the final minute for a 78-76 victory Sunday and its first-ever berth in the quarterfinals of the World Championship of Basketball.
China (2-1), which had lost to the United States by 55 points in its last game - 40 more than Spain did in its opener, - took the lead for good at 60-59 on a side jumper by Shan Tao with 8:45 to play. That was 1:30 into China's defensive run that allowed two field goals from 10:15 left until Rafael Jofresa's 3-pointer with 34 seconds to play brought Spain (1-2) within 72-70.
Hu Weidong made two free throws 8 seconds later, and Jofresa made two foul shots with 23 seconds left. Zheng Wu made two free throws with 22 seconds left, and Jofresa answered with a drive 7 seconds later to make it 76-74. China wrapped it up when Zheng followed a long layup by Wu Naiqun with 7 seconds left.