Is it too late to add a 51st state?
In perhaps the most stunning upset in Olympic basketball history, Puerto Rico beat the United States' latest incarnation of the "Dream Team," 92-73.
It was only the third U.S. loss in Olympic history and the first since NBA players were added to the roster.
Everyone realizes the loss was a fluke and that the United States will still contend for a gold medal. But, it did little to silence the critics who believe the sometimes boorish behavior of the NBA pros has turned sentiment against the team.
Carlos Arroyo led the winners with 24 points. While the Puerto Rican team played effective defense, the Americans were eventually undone by bad shooting.
The U.S. trailed by 22 at halftime and cut the lead to 8 late in the fourth quarter. In the end, some good shooting gave Puerto Rico the win.
The U.S. next plays Tuesday against Greece.
Other results on Sunday were Argentina over Serbia-Montenegro, 83-82; Spain over China, 83-58; Lithuania over Angola, 78-73; Italy over New Zealand, 71-69; and Greece over Australia, 76-54.
Swimming: Any hope that Michael Phelps had to win eight gold medal died as the U.S. 400-meter relay team was shocked by South Africa. The United States started poorly as Ian Crocker, who said he was suffering from a sore throat, swam a dreadful opening leg. Phelps followed, and while faster, did not make up the kind of ground necessary to compete for the gold. At the end, the Netherlands caught the United States for second place. The South Africans turned in a time of 3:13.17 seconds, a world record.
Other winners were Petria Thomas of Australia in the women's 100-meter butterfly; Laure Manaudou of France in the women's 400-meter freestyle, and Kosuke Kitajima of Japan in the men's 100-meter breaststroke.
Archery: Panathinaiko Stadium, home to the 1896 Olympics, came alive on Sunday as the archery competition started with preliminary rounds. And, an American remade that history by being one of the first winners in the stadium. Jennifer Nichols beat Rina Puspitasari of India, 160-151. She will now face Tetyana Berezhna of the Ukraine in the round of 32 on Tuesday.
Badminton: The United States a badminton power? Well, let's not get carried away. But Howard Bach and Kevin Han, formerly singles players, teamed up for an impressive opener in the men's doubles competition. They beat South Africans Dorian James and Stewart Carson, 15-4, 15-1, to advance to the round of 16. They play fifth-seeded Jens Eriksen and Martin Lundgaard Hansen of Denmark on Monday.
Baseball: Cuba is supposed to win in the Olympics, right? It didn't disappoint on Sunday with a 4-1 win over Australia. The other contender, Japan, also sailed easily with a 12-0 win over Italy, called after the seven inning by the so-called "slaughter" rule. These two top teams play Monday in what could be a precursor to the gold medal game. The United States did not qualify for the tournament. The other winners were Canada over Taiwan, 7-0, and the Netherlands over Greece, 11-0.
Beach volleyball: The world of beach volleyball maintained its natural order as top-ranked Misty May and Kerri Walsh won an easy two-setter over Japan's Chiaki Kusuhara and Ryoko Tokumo. In a match on the men's side, Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger rallied to beat Andrew Schacht and Josh Slack of Australia. The United States and Brazil are considered the teams to beat.
Boxing: The United States advanced another boxer to the second round when Vanes Martirosyan defeated Benamar Meskine of Algeria, 45-20, in the welterweight division. Things get difficult in the next round as he faces Lorenzo Aragon Armenterus of Cuba on Thursday. Martirosyan took the spot that everyone thought was going to go to Andre Berto. But Berto was disqualified in a match at the trials. He then became the one-man Haitian team. He lost on Sunday.
Cycling: Australia's Sara Carrigan won the women's road race, but it was Germany's Judith Arndt that everyone will remember. As Arndt crossed the finish line she gave the middle-finger salute, said to be directed at the German Cycling Federation for not sending her teammate sprinter Petra Rossner to this event. Arndy believed working as a team she would have won. The International Cycling Federation, taking a hard stand, fined her 165 Swiss francs. Americans Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn and Deidre Barry finished eighth, 15th and 16th.
Equestrian: The strong wind that was flapping flags and overturning objects was quite distracting to the horses during the dressage portion of the three-day event. And you think golfers need it quiet. Scores are difficult to give meaning to, as all riders have not been scored. The United States is counting on John Williams and Kim Severson to have the best performances although the first day was disappointing.
Fencing: No surprise at the fencing venue as defending gold medalist Timea Nagy of Hungary beat Laura Flessel-Colovic of France. Kamara James of the United States lost her first-round match.
Field hockey: It was the men's turn to take to the field on Sunday providing the following scores: Australia over New Zealand, 4-1; South Africa over Argentina, 2-1; Germany over Pakistan, 2-1; Netherlands over India, 3-1; Britian over Egypt, 3-1; and South Korea and Spain played to a 1-1 tie.
Gymnastics: The U.S. women's team took several missteps -- literally -- during qualifying on Sunday. Many of the gymnasts struggled with their dismounts, leaving them wounded but not hurt. Carly Patterson and Courtney Kupets both qualified for the all-around with Patterson a legitimate gold-medal contender. Patterson also qualified for the balance beam whil Kupets was advanced in the uneven bars and beam. Annia Hatch barely made it in the vault, her specialty. Mohini Bhardwaj will compete in the floor exercise. The U.S. finished second as a team behind Romania. But everyone starts even on Tuesday when the women's team final is held.
Judo: No surprises in judo as Japan and China picked up the gold medals. Masato Uchishiba beat Jozef Krnac of Slovakia in the 66-kg class. The U.S.'s Alex Ottiano, considered to have an outside shot at a medal, was eliminated in the first. In a more wide open women's competition, Xian Dongmei of China beat Yuki Yokosawa of Japan at 52-kg. The only American, Charlee Minkin also lost in the first round.
Rowing: The United States has a successful day in rowing placing both the men's and women's eights in Sunday's finals. Both won their heats, though in different styles. The women built a big lead and were able to hold off a hard charging Romanian boat. The men chased down Canada to win its heat. The lightweight men's four finished third giving them placement in Thursday's semifinals. In other heats, Greg Ruckman and Steve Tucker finished second in the lightweight men's double sculls; the women's quadruple sculls finished second; the lightweight women's double sculls finished fourth and the men's quadruple sculls finished fourth. All now go into the second-chance (repechage) round on Tuesday. Racing on Monday is being postponed, fearing high winds would disrupt the boats.
Sailing: It's a long haul to the finish of the sailing competition and the weather made Sunday's competition even longer. The Meltemi winds were gusting to 25 knots causing about 30 boats to capsize. Mark Mendelblatt had an impressive race in the Laser class, finishing second in the first race before dropping to 16th in the second. It left him in sixth place. Other sailors included Kevin Hall, who was hurt by a restart in the Finn class, who finished the day in 11th place. The U.S. Yngling crew, known as Team Atkins because of their switching to the popular diet, finished the day in 10th place.
Shooting: The Americans had medal hopes in the men's trap shooting competition. But, Lance Blade, a bronze medalist in Atlanta, had three misses in the final round and finished fifth. High winds were said to account for the misses. Russia's Alexei Alipov handled the wind a lot better with a perfect final round giving him the gold medal. In a true shootout, Olena Kostevych of the Ukraine won the women's 10-meter air pistol over Jasna Sekaric of Serbia-Montenegro. The contest was decided by a one-shot shoot-off.
Soccer: The darling of this year's Games may very well be the Iraq soccer team. The team, given virtually a courtesy invite to the tournament, beat Costa Rica, 2-0, assuring it of the next round of play. This follows a 4-2 upset of Portugal in the opener. The win sparked impromptu celebrations among Iraqi immigrants in the Athens area and Greeks who have found themselves an underdog to support. Other winners were Ghana over Paraguay, 2-1; Portugal over Morocco, 2-1 and Italy over Japan, 3-2.
Softball: The U.S. women's softball team continued its strong superiority with a 10-0 win over Australia, a team that was expected to give the two-time defending champions a better game. Veteran Lisa Fernandez pitched a one-hitter for the win. The U.S. plays its toughest game to date on Monday when they play Japan, a 6-0 winner over Taiwan. The other winners were Italy over China, 7-5 and Greece over Canada, 2-0.
Table tennis: The U.S. may be having a banner tournament or it all may be an illusion. The highlight was a victory ion women's doubles by Tawny Banh and Gao Jun over Luisana Perez and Fabiola Ramos of Venezuela. Their next match will be Monday against Bok Rae Kim and Kyung Ah Kim of Korea.
Team handball: The sport continued to match toward it inevitable conclusion as two-time gold medalist Denmark beat France. Other winners were Hungary, Brazil and Angola.
Tennis: There was order at the tennis venue as both Venus Williams and Andy Roddick rolled to easy victories in the first round of the tournament. Williams, the defending gold medalist, won in 57 minutes over Melinda Czink of Hungary, 6-1, 6-2. Roddick, who has never competed in the Games, beat Brazil's Favio Saretta, 6-3, 7-6. Williams moves on to play Maja Matevzic of Slovenia while Roddick will play Tommy Haas of Germany.
Volleyball: The United States men's team played with a lot of intensity against Italy. But, Italy played with more skill, winning in four sets. The intensity spilled over after the game when some angry words were exchanged. But, in the end, the U.S. was not supposed to be a medal favorite and Italy was a co-favorite along with Brazil. The U.S. almost forced a fifth set but blew a 17-15 lead and 23-21 lead. But in the end, the better team probably won. The others winners were Poland over Serbia-Montenegro, 3-0; Netherlands over Russia, 3-2; Argentina over France, 3-0; Brazil over Australia, 3-1 and Greece over Tunsia, 3-0.
Water polo: A last second shot by Tony Azevedo was all the United States needed to pull out a 7-6 win over Croatia. The shot came with eight seconds left. Hungary, the defending gold medalist, beat Serbia-Montenegro, 6-4. Other winners were Spain over Italy, 5-4; Germany over Greece, 5-4; Australiaover Egypt, 14-3 and Russia over Kazakhstan, 5-2.
Weightlifting: Move aside Pocket Hercules, there's a new lifter in town. Halil Mutulu won his third straight gold for Turkey in the 56-kg class. It matches a feat done only by countryman Naim Suleymanoglu, the first person to ever lift triple bodyweight. He was known as the Pocket Hercules because of his small size. Tailand's Udomporn Polsak was the women's 53-kg class.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun