Rudy Tomjanovich and his cast of basketball understudies have one more dress rehearsal.
After beating up on two countries that have meager talent, the United States will play less-modest Italy on Saturday night in a final exhibition game before the World Championships."The Italian team will the best we've played so far," Tom-jan-o-vich, the Houston Rockets coach moonlighting this summer as head of the U.S. team, said Fri-day.
"We feel that with each game we've played a tougher team and that helps in our development. We've only been together about two weeks."
With the flap between the NBA and its players having kept the NBA from making another appearance, Tomjanovich has gathered a mix of players from college, the CBA and European leagues.
"Hey, with this team we're just one of the teams" at the worlds, he said. "There will be a lot more drama in the games and a lot more satisfaction if we reach our goal."
After arriving in Europe to prepare for the tournament, which opens Wednesday in Athens, Greece, Tomjanovich's team has beaten France 93-63 and Spain 95-78. France didn't qualify for the championships and Spain is considered a real outsider.
Italy, runner-up at the 1997 European Championships and 1994 Goodwill Games, can't match the Americans' skill but does have size on its side. Slovenian-born Gregor Fucka is not a power player but at 7-foot-1 can grab rebounds and has slick inside moves.
Roberto Chiacig and Alessandro Frosini add bulk inside, complementing Carlton Myers' outside shooting.