SAITAMA, Japan - Look out, world.
The United States routed Australia 113-73 Sunday, sending an unmistakable message to the FIBA world championship. This isn't the team that proved an embarrassment in recent international competitions.
"We wanted to make a statement coming into the round of 16," said forward Chris Bosh, who grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
On a day that every American scored, Carmelo Anthony led the U.S. with 20 points while Joe Johnson added 18 and Dwyane Wade 15.
Granted, the Australians weren't much of a test. They went 2-3 in group play and have few weapons beside Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut, who scored 20 points.
But the Americans made it look almost too easy, turning a tight game into a laugher by outscoring the Australians 32-6 in the second quarter.
Now the U.S. can look forward to its quarterfinal match-up Wednesday night against Germany, another team with a star NBA center and a mostly anonymous supporting cast. Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas is third in tournament scoring, averaging 24.5 points.
"I think our biggest opponent is ourselves right now," Johnson said. "We've just got to keep our intensity up."
Asked whether the U.S. is unbeatable when its shots are falling, Johnson replied, "No doubt. When our shots are falling and when they're not falling."
If he sounds confident, it's because the U.S. has outscored its past two opponents, Senegal and Australia, by a combined 216-131.
Of course, neither Senegal nor Australia is in the same hoops universe as Spain or Argentina, which are mowing down the opposition on the other side of the bracket.
That's why Elton Brand said he hopes his teammates aren't taking anyone for granted. Brand played on the 2002 U.S. world championship team that finished sixth.
"We're not going to be cocky about it," Brand said.
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