Game Preview: USA-Ukraine
USA vs. Ukraine
11:30 a.m. EDT, ESPN2
The USA’s final World Cup preliminary round game, its fifth game in six days, will be a first ever meeting against Ukraine. The USA and Ukraine have never met in a senior level FIBA competition. The game is being broadcast live (11:30 a.m. EDT) by ESPN2.
However, the USA-Ukraine contest does feature two coaches very familiar with each other.
“They have one of the greatest coaches in the world. He is one of my best friends and I’m not joking about one of the greatest coaches in the world, I think Mike Fratello is very special,” said USA and Duke University mentor Mike Krzyzewski. “He and I have been friends for four decades. I think the Ukraine is very luck to have him and his staff, they’ve put together a fabulous team that really is well disciplined, they can really shoot the ball, and would like to play at a slower tempo than us.
“They’re having a terrific tournament so we’re going to be ready and we respect them. It will be funny coaching against Mike because I’m always pulling for him and I know he’s always pulling for me.”
Serving as head coach of the Ukraine team is former NBA mentor Fratello. As a former head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Memphis Grizzlies, he lists as the NBA’s 18th all-time leader for regular season wins (667) and 19th for games coached (1,215). Assisting Fratello is NBA coaching veteran Brian Hill, who also boasts of NBA coaching experience as a former head coach of the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies.
Carrying a 2-2 record into the game against the USA, Ukraine is led by Eugene Jeter who has averaged a team high 16.0 points and 5.8 assists a game over the course of the first four games. Point guard Olexandr Mishula has come off the bench to average 10.0 points and has made 10-of-19 3-point shots, while 6-foot-6 shooting guard Sergii Gladya averages 9.0 ppg., and 6-foot-11 Phoenix Suns center Slava Kravtsov is grabbing a team high 6.0 rebounds a game and adding 5.5 points. University of Kansas basketball fans could get a glimpse of their incoming 6-foot-6 freshman Sviatos Mykhailiuk, who although just 17 years old, made the Ukraine World Cup roster.
As a team, Ukraine is averaging 68.2 points a game on 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 35.6 percent from 3-point.
Meanwhile, the USA, winners of their first four preliminary round games of the 2014 FIBA World Cup and owners of a current 58 game winning streak that dates back to the 2006 World Championship bronze medal game, continue to feature a balanced offensive attack.
The U.S. is currently led by 21 year old Anthony Davis, who is averaging 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots a game, and by Kenneth Faried who is adding 14.8 points and a team leading 7.8 rebounds, while shooting a sizzling 78.4 percent (29-37 FGs) from the floor. Contributing to the USA’s firepower that sees the squad scoring an average of 104.0 points a game, are James Harden, 11.5 ppg. and 4.3 apg.; Klay Thompson, 11.0 ppg.; Kyrie Irving, 9.5 ppg. and 3.3 apg.; DeMarcus Cousins, 9.3 ppg. and 5.0 rpg.; while Stephen Curry is averaging 8.3 points and a team high 4.5 assists a game.
As a team, the U.S. is averaging 104.0 points game, shooting 54.9 percent from the field, 33.8 percent from 3-point and 70.1 percent from the foul line. Defensively, the USA is holding it’s opponents to just 68.5 points a game, 38.3 percent shooting from the floor, 32.2 percent from 3-point, and is forcing opponents into 26.8 turnovers a game. Additionally, the USA is recording 16.5 steals a game.
The U.S. currently leads the World Cup in six team statistical categories. The USA ranks first in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, assists, steals and turnover margin, while ranking second in defensive field goal percentage, rebounding average; third in blocked shots; fourth in rebounding margin; tied for fourth in points allowed; and sixth in defensive 3-point percentage. The complete listing for team statistics can be found here.
Individually, among all World Cup players, Davis lists 11th overall in scoring and Faried is 15th; Faried is ninth in rebounding and Davis ranks tied for 18th. Faried lists second and Cousins fifth in field goal percentage, and Klay Thompson is tied for fifth for made 3-pointers. In assists, Curry currently ranks tied for seventh with Harden falling in at tied for 10th, while Harden ranks first, Curry is tied for fourth, and Cousins and Irving are tied for 11th in steals. Davis also lists tied for fourth in blocked shots and Faried is tied for first in offensive rebounds. The complete listing for individual statistical leaders can be found here.
Although one game remains in preliminary group play for all of the World Cup teams, the USA is already assured of Group C’s No. 1 seed for the Round of 16 which begins the World Cup’s elimination round action.
The top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will advance to the Round of 16. As Group C’s top seed, the USA will face Group D’s No. 4 seed in Barcelona on Saturday, Sept. 6.
Heading into the final day of preliminary round action, teams continue to battle for seeding and one of their group’s top four finishes. Host Spain in Group A, Greece in Group B and Slovenia in Group D, like the USA, own flawless 4-0 records and have established themselves as medal contenders. For the current World Cup standings, click here.
Since the first World Championship in 1950, the USA has won 11 medals – four gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals – while compiling an all-time 118-27 win-loss record.
Just the Facts: Ukraine
FIBA World Ranking: #45
How Ukraine Qualified: FIBA Europe 6th place (6-5)
World Cup Appearances: 0
World Cup Overall Record: 0-0
World Cup Finishes: None
World Cup Record vs. USA: 0-0
Last Senior Team Meeting vs. USA: None
2012 Olympic Finish: DNP
2013 Head Coach: Mike Fratello
2013 Key Players In FIBA Europe Championship: Eugene Jeter (13.5 ppg., 3.5 rpg., 4.1 apg.), Sergii Gladya (12.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg.), Kyryl Natyazhko (7.7 ppg., 4.6 rpg.).
For more behind-the-scenes video, photos and content, be sure to follow USA Basketball on every social media platform!
Twitter - https://twitter.com/usabasketball
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/usabasketball
Instagram - http://instagram.com/usabasketball