After sleepwalking through their last two games in group play, Team USA took the court Monday for their first game in the knockout rounds. The Americans looked like a team ready to bring back a gold medal, as they scored a lopsided 121-66 over Angola to advance to the FIBA quarterfinals. Senior member Chauncey Billups lead a well-balanced U.S. attack with 19 points and four assists.
The United States won the opening tip-off for the first time in the tournament. A Billups three-pointer and Kevin Durant fast-break dunk helped the U.S. jump out to a 5-0 start. The game quickly got out of hand when the same tandem knocked down consecutive three-pointers later in the quarter to push the lead to 22-7. Continuing their high level of play on both ends of the floor, the Americans ended the quarter with the 33-13 lead.
Forwards Rudy Gay and Kevin Love got things started for the United States in the second quarter. The two combined for the team’s first 11 points of the period and helped make it known that the U.S. had no intentions of holding back after jumping out to the big lead. More hot shooting from Billups and Durant gave the Americans a 65-33 advantage at the half.
Not particularly known for his long-range shooting, Derrick Rose knocked down consecutive three-pointers to start the scoring for the United States in the second half. That only tells part of the story, as Team USA shot 6-of-9 from three-point range in the quarter to push the lead to 35 points at the buzzer. The story remained the same in the fourth quarter, where the Americans outscored Angola 30-10 to cap off a dominant performance.
In addition to the hot hand of Chauncey Billups, the United States got 17 points apiece from Durant, Gay and Eric Gordon. The team shot 52 percent from the field, 47 percent from three-point range and committed just five turnovers in the game. Perhaps pleasing Coach Mike Krzyzewski the most was the team’s 30 assists on 41 field goals. He praised his group for playing sharp and unselfish.
The Americans now look toward a quarterfinals match-up with Russia that promises to be a much closer contest. The Russians have 5-1 FIBA record, with their lone loss coming to a tough Turkey team. That game can be seen on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Team USA has cleared the first hurdle in their quest to regain basketball supremacy at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In the last two days, they’ve played their way to big victories over Iran and Tunisia to remain undefeated and emerge as the number one seed from Group B. Today’s results land them a match-up with Angola, who finished as the fourth seed in Group A.
Projected to be destroyed by the Americans, Iran was just happy to keep the game reasonably competitive in the first half. Poorly executed offense and an influx of turnovers let the Iranian team hang in the game after two periods of play. In the long run, the depth of the United States proved to be too much, as they outscored Iran 46-23 in the second half to win by a 37-point margin. Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Danny Granger all posted double figure scoring totals.
Team USA looked like a team playing uninspired basketball early in Tuesday’s contest against win-less Tunisia. The Americans lead by just six points at the intermission and only held a slim four-point lead early in the third quarter. However, they were able to blow the game open in the final 15 minutes behind the hot hands of sharpshooters Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry. The big second half helped the United States coast to a 92-57 win. Gordon led the way with 21 points, while Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each added 14 of their own.
At this point, it’d be nitpicking to critique the group play wins by the United States. However, there are a few red flags that the team will need to address during this three-day rest. They’ve had a hard time getting any offense going, even drawing speculation that the team is holding back for the next round of games. They’ve also turned the ball over entirely too much, tallying as many as 22 in the game against Brazil. They’ll need to sharpen up their offensive execution moving on against tougher competition.
After one quarter of play in Saturday’s FIBA opener between the United States and Croatia, the Americans held on to just a 22-20 lead. That uneasy feeling of disappointing FIBA performances past started to surface. However, before those feelings could linger, the second quarter happened. Sparked by a 26-6 run in the second frame, Team USA coasted to a 106-78 victory.
The American men blew the game open in the second quarter when a Kevin Durant three-point play started a 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 14 points. Sharpshooter Eric Gordon caught fire, knocking down consecutive triples, while forward Rudy Gay added a three of his own and a free throw to give the United States a 48-26 lead at the half. The U.S. run wasn’t all about offense, as they harassed the Croatian team into 3-of-17 shooting for the quarter, including 0-for-6 from three-point territory. The second quarter run set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Croatia came out a little more efficient in the third quarter, but was overwhelmed by an American offense that realized the game was in the bag. Team USA added another 30 points, including five points each from Billups, Durant and Andre Iguodala. Croatia held a 30-28 scoring advantage in the final period, but the Americans were in full cruise-control mode at that point.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski was able to play all 12 of his guys, giving the starters plenty of rest for the upcoming schedule. Each player on the roster was able to log at least 10 minutes and score in the process. Gordon led the team with 16 points in 22 minutes, while Durant scored 14 points of his own. Big man Kevin Love added seven points and 10 rebounds in just 13 minutes of action.
There is still a lot of basketball left to be played for Team USA, but they have to be pleased with this start. While they were favored to handle the Croatians, the early dominance was somewhat unexpected. As several members of the coaching staff and team stated, they have to maintain that second-quarter level of intensity throughout the tournament if they want to bring the FIBA Gold Medal back to the United States.
Play will resume today at 9:30 a.m. EST against Slovenia.
Yesterday afternoon, the US Men’s National team and Chinese National team squared off in a closed-door scrimmage as both teams prepare for the upcoming FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Adidas Basketball players represented for both rosters, with Sun Yue and Wang Zhizhi spotted in Stripes for China, and Eric Gordon, Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose all wearing Team Signature models.
China’s Sun Yue was seen wearing the Adidas TS Ace Commander, which happens to be Candace Parker’s signature shoe.
Chauncey Billups has been sticking with the TS Lightning Creator for the past two seasons, and once again showed up wearing a Team USA version of the Formotion guard shoe.
Derrick Rose was once again wearing his new Adidas TS adiZero Creators, which will be available at the start of the upcoming season.
And lastly, Eric Gordon was wearing the adiZero Infiltrate, a more traditional mid-cut Puremotion model. Also, Wang Zhizhi can be seen in the background in his very own TS Heat Check player exclusives.
As one of the most successful and well-respected coaches in college basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, has a resume that speaks for itself. From his four NCAA titles as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils to the USA Basketball Team whom he guided to a Gold Medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Coach K knows the game better than most. More importantly, as a coach he knows the players, and while at the World Basketball Festival, he shared his thoughts on Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.