The Washington Wizards were represented Sunday, the first day of Men’s 2012 Olympic basketball competition in London, England. Center Nene helped Brazil survive Australia in a 75-71 victory, while France, led by forward Kevin Seraphin and former Wizards center-forward Ronny Turiaf, fell 98-71 in a loss to USA.
Nene scored 10 points (4-of-6) and secured 7 rebounds (6 defensive) against the Aussies. He also blocked 2 shots. Leandro Barbosa led Brazil with a team-high 16 points. Australia rallied back from an 11-point, third-quarter deficit, but a kick-ball call gave Brazil a fresh shot clock and the game.
Turiaf scored 7 points (2-of-4) and secured 7 rebounds for France, acting as the only legit big on the team. Seraphin came off the bench and played limited minutes, partly due to foul trouble in the second half. He finished with 3 points, 1 rebound, and 4 fouls (players only get 5 fouls per game during the 2012 Olympics, as opposed to 6 in an NBA game).
USA and France struggled from deep during the first quarter. A closing three-ball by French guard Yannick Bokolo resulted in a combined 1-for-11 from beyond the perimeter. USA led 22-21 after one.
Despite early three-point troubles, USA–led by Kevin Durant–found their stroke over the second quarter. An 11-0 USA run kick-started the period, and France trailed 52-36 at the half. Tony Parker, who finished the game with 10 points yet only 1 assist, found trouble against Tyson Chandler inside. Without an inside or outside game, Parker, who had to wear protective goggles following an eye scare in June, couldn’t do much.
While Durant nailed threes, LeBron James acted as the main distributor. He finished the evening with 9 points and 8 assists. Kevin Love shaped up a nice line of his own off the bench, with 7 of his 14 points coming in the first half of play. He banged on the boards and dominated Seraphin during the stretches in which they played head-to-head.
Seraphin will need to improve upon his positioning inside the paint as he continues to grow as a player. The more experienced Love proved Seraphin humble, which should be beneficial as far as giving the Wizards coaching staff a direction moving forward. Turiaf, who will join the Los Angeles Clippers this fall, looked sharp. He was one of the few French players who played with the physical tenacity needed to go against one of the top talents in the 2012 Olympic pool.
Men’s action will resume Tuesday. Brazil will play Great Britain at 11:45 a.m. ET, France will play Argentina at 3:00 p.m. ET, and USA will play Tunisia at 5:15 p.m. ET. Check out NBC’s Olympic TV schedule for local listings.