Amid distant bombs and a jeering crowd, U.S. men win in basketball
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- It's not every day that bombs explode a few miles away, a State Department official conducts a reassuring security briefing and the shrieks and whistles of an angry crowd all but pierce the eardrums.
Tuesday, however, was exactly that kind of a day for the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
After awakening to news that bombs had exploded at a tourist hotel and a fuel depot, killing two and injuring 11, the Americans decided to play on.
By the time they finished an 80-68 victory over Turkey in front of a crowd that turned hostile following injuries to two members of the home team, the Americans' best player pronounced the team "1,000 percent better" than it was less than three weeks ago when it began training in a far-off land called Florida.
"I think we're right where we need to be going into the Olympics," Tim Duncan said after shooting 12-for-14 for 25 points in a game that stayed close until the early part of the fourth quarter. "We understand each other a little better, and what we're going to run into."
Fear of terrorism was one of the factors that kept many superstars away and prevented the United States from fielding a team of its best players. The reality of terror unfolded only a few miles away from the luxury hotel where the Americans are bunking down on the final stop of their pre-Olympic tour.
A previously unknown Kurdish group claimed responsibility for pre-dawn bomb attacks on two hotels.
No serious consideration was given to canceling or postponing the game, USA basketball executive director Jim Tooley said.
The Americans' final game was similar to others during their up-and-down pre-Olympic tour. They were unable to dominate an opponent that figured to be vastly overmatched, but they got the job done in the end.
Duncan also had 11 rebounds, Allen Iverson scored 13 and Richard Jefferson added 11.