Second Quarter Dominance Propels USA To Win Over Croatia
Aug. 28, 2010 • Istanbul, Turkey
All it took was a dominating 26-6 second quarter performance by the U.S. to end the suspense in its debut at the 2010 World Championship preliminary round opener against Croatia (0-1). With every member of the USA team scoring, the Americans started their quest for the World title with an impressive 106-78 victory Saturday night at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.
Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) paced the USA offense, which was the only team to break through the century scoring mark in the World Championship’s first day of action, with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) contributed 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds; Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets) finished with 12 points and four assists; while Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) scored 10 points each. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) led the USA on the glass, recording a game best 10 rebounds while adding seven points.
“We were pleased with the effort of our team,” said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “I thought they played us extremely well in the first quarter and then we went on a spurt … three 3-point shots that kind of broke it open. We beat a really good team tonight and we have to turn around and face another really good team tomorrow afternoon.”
Billups accounted for the USA’s first five points as the U.S. jumped out to a 7-0 lead with the game barely 1:12 old. But Croatia slowly chipped away and after Marko Banic grabbed a rebound and made the put back, Croatia had its first and only lead of the night 19-18. Westbrook made two free throws to push the USA back ahead and after the first 10 minutes the USA was holding a 22-20 lead.
Trading baskets to open the second quarter, the score stood at 24-22 in favor of the U.S. Durant quickly posted five points to launch the USA on a 12-0 run that expanded the red, white and blue’s advantage to 36-22 with 6:47 to play in quarter two.
Holding a 38-26 lead with 3:38 remaining in the second period, the U.S. brook the game wide open when Gordon drained back-to-back 3-pointers and Gay nailed a three of his own and then converted on one of two free throws to push the Americans in front 48-26 at half.
“I saw that they played zone. As long as we move the ball and if I find that open shot, I’m willing to take it and knock it down,” said Gordon.
Croatia, which made 9-of-19 shots in the first 10 minutes, was harassed into 3-of-17 shooting, including 0-of-6 from 3-point, in the second stanza, while the U.S. hit 9-of-17 shots in the second quarter.
The USA dogging defense disrupted Croatia’s offense and for the game held them to 43.7 percent shooting from the floor overall, and 33.3 percent from 3-point. Both squads protect the ball, Croatia made 12 turnovers and the U.S. just seven.
“He (Gordon) has been consistently excellent and the guys, I know, have great confidence in him as does the staff. He probably had the hardest road to being selected for this team. He didn’t get as much playing time early and then whenever he came in, he did something really good. He’s been terrific,” remarked Krzyzewski on Gordon’s play.
In Group B’s other action Saturday, Slovenia (1-0) upended Tunisia (0-1) 80-56 and Brazil (1-0) pounded Iran (0-1) 81-65. In Group A play, Argentina (1-0) fended off Germany (0-1) 78-74, Australia (1-0) rallied in the final minute to hand Jordan (0-1) a 76-75 loss, and Serbia (1-0) easily handled Angola (0-1) 94-44. In Group C, Greece (1-0) defeated China (0-1) 89-83, Russia (1-0) knocked off Puerto Rico (0-1) 75-66, and host Turkey (1-0) rolled over Ivory Coast (0-1) 86-47. Group D results saw Lithuania (1-0) beat New Zealand (0-1) 92- 79, Lebanon (1-0) surprised Canada (0-1) 81-71, while France (1-0) pulled off the upset of the night by defeating defending World Champion Spain 72-66.
The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.
The U.S. continues World Championship preliminary round play on Aug. 29 against Slovenia, a team it defeated 114-95 in 2006 World Championship preliminary play in their only prior World Championship meeting. The USA will then meet FIBA Americas Zone champion Brazil on Aug. 29. The USA-Brazil World Championship series stands at 6-5 in favor of the United States with the two teams’ last meeting in the 1998 World Championship. Following a day off on Aug. 31, the USA resumes play Sept. 1 against Asia Zone champ Iran, a team it has not faced previously in World Championship play, then closes out preliminary play with a contest versus Tunisia on Sept. 2, another team that the Americans have not met in World Championship action.
The 2010 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Championship for Men is being held Aug. 28- Sept. 12 in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Kayseri, Turkey. Twenty-four teams are competing in the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men and those teams were divided into four preliminary round groups consisting of six teams each.