MACAU – They were sure easy to spot, towering over everyone and wearing red jackets as they walked toward the arena at this resort.
Turkey’s basketball team is tall, and it might well provide the sort of challenge the United States is looking for as the Beijing Olympics near.
The teams meet Thursday, with the Americans entering the difficult portion of their exhibition schedule. They have three more games in the next five nights, two against potential medal contenders.
“We wanted as many tough games as possible and actually the way we’re doing it, we have three in four (days), and four in six, it’s tougher than what Beijing will be where you have a day off in between each,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So the better the competition, the better it will be for us.”
The United States then plays Lithuania, the team it beat in the bronze-medal game four years ago, on Friday. In Shanghai, the Americans will face European champion Russia and Australia.
Turkey didn’t qualify for the Olympics, but has the kind of frontcourt height the Americans will see once they get there.
Six members of Turkey’s roster for the game are listed at 6-foot-9 or taller. Even without some of their top players, the Turks should present a bigger challenge than Canada did in the Americans’ exhibition opener. The U.S. won that game 120-65.
The Americans played much closer games against the Turks in 2004 – a pair of 12-point victories in exhibitions before the Olympics.