Sydney's Games: A Bluffers Guide

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The U.S. dominates Olympic basketball-all the more so since the demise of its greatest rival, the Soviet Union.

Can anyone topple the U.S. Dream Team? In its pool matches, the U.S.-led by dunk maestro Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Alonzo Mourning-will face China, Lithuania, Italy, France and New Zealand. The other pool, including Australia's Boomers, Russia and Yugoslavia, could throw up some interesting challengers to the Dream Team in the later rounds. Australia's crack outside shooters Shane Heal and Andrew Gaze (at his fifth Olympics) could prove hard to handle, while close to the basket NBA players Luc Longley and Chris Anstey will want to stand tall in front of their home crowd. Still, they'll need lots of luck to improve on their fourth placing in Atlanta.

The U.S. women are reigning Olympic champs, having lost only one game in their last 24 Olympic outings. Their main threats are Australia and Brazil, 1996 bronze and silver medalists respectively. As in the men's event, hometown support and experience could see the local Opals playing the U.S. for gold in one of the best team contests of the Games.


Men Oct. 1

Women Sept. 30