LAS VEGAS -- "We're too small."
That's the biggest knock Carmelo Anthony has been hearing about his Team USA squad looking to repeat gold in the Summer Olympics.
But during a blowout 113-59 victory over the Dominican Republic on Thursday night in an exhibition game at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, Team USA displayed its versatility, with even Anthony playing some center.
Melo finished with 13 points and five rebounds as the team's starting power forward -- a position he played on the Knicks this past season when Amare Stoudemire hurt his lower back in late March. Then during the game, Melo moved to the five, where he battled against center Al Horford, who plays for the Hawks.
While Tyson Chandler is the only true center on the team -- Dwight Howard is not on the roster, as he's recovering from offseason back surgery -- Anthony said that their athleticism provides them an advantage, where they have interchangeable parts.
"Right now, I can definitely say we're a very athletic team, probably more athletic than we were in '08," he said. "The guys that we have can play multiple positions and do a lot of different things."
Looking ahead, Anthony could likely play more in the middle due to Blake Griffin's absence. The Clippers All-Star power forward left Las Vegas on Thursday for Los Angeles, where a medical evaluation revealed a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.
"We're going to have to play some different lineups where you're not going to see a 6-10 guy," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said following the game.
At 6-8, 230, with his strength and ability to score in the post, Anthony will be able to bang with most bigs during the Olympics. But Spain (with NBA brothers Pau and Marc Gasol) will present the biggest problems. Anthony said he hasn't spoken to Coach K yet about any revised role.
"At this point, I really don't know what's going to happen," he said. "It's sad. I'm sad to hear Blake's situation. Nobody even knew. He was still dunking, he was still running, jumping high."
Melo reflected on his first game with Team USA with ESPN New York, and he said "it was like a dream."
"I get the rebound, I come down the court and I push it and I've got Kobe (Bryant) on one wing, I've got LeBron (James) on one wing and I've got (Kevin Durant) trailing," he said. "And then I look around and I've got (Chris Paul) out there, so it's a kind of surreal moment for me."
Team USA's upcoming exhibition opponents include: Brazil on July 16 in Washington, D.C.; Great Britain on July 19 in Manchester, England; Argentina on July 22 in Barcelona, Spain; and Spain on July 24 in Barcelona.
The Olympics start on July 29 in London, where Team USA is in Preliminary Round Pool A, joined by Argentina, France, Lithuania, Nigeria and Tunisia. Pool B features Australia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Russia and Spain. The top four teams from each Olympic preliminary round group will advance to the quarterfinals on August 8, with the winners playing in the semifinals on August 10 and the medal games on August 12.
Anthony said that when he won his first gold medal in Beijing four years ago, it was a feeling he had never experienced.
"When we won it, it was kind of a feeling that you can't really explain," he said. "Everybody was excited. It really didn't hit you until the national anthem came on and they raised the flag, and the whole arena was singing the national anthem. That's when it really hit you."
On Wednesday, Anthony spoke for a few minutes with ESPN New York about the Olympics. Here are some tidbits:
On his commitment to Team USA: "It only can help. That's the way I look at it. It can only get me into better shape. I would be doing the same thing right now if I wasn't playing with the USA team, as far as working out, playing ball and doing things like that. So why not take advantage of this opportunity?"
On any new surprises this time around: "No surprises. It gets better and better each time, just coming here and just hearing the stories once again, getting you back into that mindset. It makes the whole opportunity exciting."
On what he expects from the competition: "We know that it'll be tougher trying to make that run this time. The other countries are definitely going to try to throw everything at us, so if we overcome that, then we feel like we made great strides."
On other events he's looking forward to watching in London: "We were very excited about the swimming in 2008. I love boxing personally."
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