Americans know tougher tests ahead

LAS VEGAS -- From the string of U.S. romps to the sound of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the FIBA Americas championship was a reminder of the way international basketball tournaments used to look.

There never was much doubt about the outcome. The real questions involve next summer.

For starters, who is the favorite in Beijing?

"Obviously us," U.S. star Carmelo Anthony said. "I guess us right now."

Maybe so, but it won't be easy -- certainly not as easy as the Olympic qualifier. The Americans brought the strongest team they've had in years, while some of their chief rivals showed up with watered-down ones.

That will change in China. Count on Argentina's roster looking more like the one that won gold in 2004 than the one the Americans beat 118-81 on Sunday in the championship game.

"The thing about Beijing next summer, everybody is going to bring their top players," Anthony said. "So it will be a great experience. I can't wait, I'm looking forward to it."

He should be excited. With Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Jason Kidd joining Anthony at the core, the Americans have a team that compares favorably with the ones that helped them rule international basketball a decade ago.

• Dirk Nowitzki scored 35 points and pulled in 11 rebounds as Germany needed overtime to beat the Czech Republic 83-78 on the opening day of the European basketball championships.

Tony Parker scored 16 as France held off Poland 74-66 in a Group D match in Alicante, while Andrei Kirilenko's 24 points and 12 rebounds led Russia over Group A rival Serbia 73-65 in Granada.

In a Group B match in Seville, Latvia surprised Croatia 85-77.

• PRO FOOTBALL -- Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan reported to the New York Giants, six days before the season opener.

Ending a holdout that may cost him more than $500,000 in fines, Strahan arrived unobserved at Giants Stadium around 4 p.m., handled some paperwork and met with general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin. He also took a physical and left after 45 minutes, not making himself available for comment.

The 35-year-old Strahan, who held out for more than five weeks and missed all four preseason games while deciding whether to play a 15th season or retire, will practice today.

• WINTHROP WOMEN'S SOCCER -- In Boone, N.C., the Winthrop women's soccer team collected its second draw in a row as it tied Appalachian State, 0-0, after two overtimes.

Winthrop junior goalie Dimitra Poulos collected her first clean sheet of the season and 15th of her career. Offensively, the Lady Eagles managed to get 10 shots, five on target, while Appalachian State got 22 attempts with 10 of those going on goal.

The Winthrop Lady Eagles had a great chance to open the scoreboard as a shot by junior midfielder Katie Schraudenbach beat the keeper, but hit the crossbar in the 38th minute of the first half.

Winthrop visits Western Carolina on Friday.

• LOCAL TENNIS -- USTA Junior Team Tennis teams are now forming in York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Boys and girls will compete on teams, learning the game by playing it.

Weekly sessions include instruction plus match play (singles, doubles and mixed doubles).Teams will be formed based on age and ability. All ability levels welcome, ages 8-18. Six week seasons begins Sept. 15 at various locations. The cost is $35 plus an $18 USTA membership. For more information contact Lissa Johnston, (803) 802-4365.

Junior Team Tennis volunteer coaches are also needed. Training is available at a Recreational coaches workshop on Saturday from 9-3:30 at the Rock Hill Tennis Center. The $25 workshop fee will be refunded to any attendees who coach a JTT team. Pre-registration required. For more information, please call Kim Ozmon, (803) 325-2014.


Philadelphia at Atlanta SportSouth (32) 7:35 p.m.


U.S. Open USA (54) 11 a.m.

U.S. Open USA (54) 7 p.m.