USA Runs Away From Slovenia For 119-76 Win, Into FIBA World Cup Semifinals
• VIDEO: Game Recap
• VIDEO: Coach K Post-Game
While the U.S. lead over Slovenia (5-2) was just 49-42 at the midway point of Tuesday’ quarterfinals game, the second half was all USA (7-0). Riding a game-changing 37-22 third quarter, the Americans pulled away for with a 119-76 win at Palau Sant Jordi arena in Barcelona, Spain. The win advanced the USA team into the semifinals of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
The USA will meet Lithuania (6-1), which advanced after a 73-61 win over Turkey (4-3), in the semifinals on Sept. 11.
The remaining quarterfinal games, which will be played on Sept. 10 in Madrid, feature Serbia (3-3) against Brazil (5-1) and France (4-2) versus host Spain (6-0). Winners of the semifinals will advance to the Sept. 14 gold medal game, and the losers will meet in the bronze medal game on Sept. 13.
“It’s always an honor to play against Slovenia; so well coached, and I think as good of a perimeter as anybody in these two pools,” said USA coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University). “With (the) Dragics (Goran and Zoran) and (Domen) Lorbek you have three of the really outstanding players in the whole tournament. So, we knew it would be a tough game. I thought we played really hard the whole game, we just couldn’t finish in the first half some of those plays, and they stayed with it and the flood gates opened in the second half. But our effort was there, intensity and emotion the whole game.”
While Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) led six players with 20 points, 12 of James Harden’s (Houston Rockets) 14 points came in the third quarter, which saw the USA force Slovenia into eight of its 25 turnovers. Overall, 42 of the USA’s point were scored on a fast-break opportunity and 40 were scored off of turnovers. The USA also set a U.S. Men’s World Cup record with 92 field goal attempts. The previous high was 88 field goal attempts against Russia on Aug. 14, 1994.
“Our guards really got everybody involved and then we got loose balls, which, you get loose balls and you score 40 points off turnovers, your offense looks good,” Krzyzewski said. “Forty points off turnovers is a lot of points.”
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets) added 14 points and 10 rebounds; Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots; Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) had 12 points and four steals; and Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) contributed 12 points and a game-high five assists.
Davis and Faried combined for 10 of the USA’s 23 offensive rebounds, which led to 31 second-chance points for the USA.
“We know they are a tough team. They don’t back down,” Thompson said of Slovenia. “They play physical. It’s a 40-minute game. If it was a 20-minute game, it would be a whole different story. We play good teams, like Slovenia and Lithuania next, we just want to keep pressuring them, keep wearing on them and not give them any easy shots. They got a few tonight, but as long as we keep flying around on defense. We’re more athletic than every team in this tournament, so we have to use that to our advantage.”
The USA started the game shooting a dismal 2-of-14 from the field (.143) and finished the quarter at 30.0 percent (9-30 FGs), but it collected 14 offensive boards to help combat its icy shooting. With the USA leading 26-15 at 1:49 after a 7-0 run, Slovenia, helped by five made free throws, cut the deficit to 29-22 at the first break. In his seven minutes played in the first quarter, Faried tallied eight points and six rebounds.
The USA led by as many as 12 points late in the second quarter, but again Slovenia responded in the final minutes and worked its way back to within seven points, including a 3-pointer at 35.0 seconds, to trail 49-42 at halftime.
After Slovenia scored the first points of the second half, the USA launched an 8-0 run, which was the first of three 8-0 spurts for the U.S. in the third quarter. The USA apparently left its shooting woes in the locker room as it shot 14-of-23 from the field (.609) and 3-of-4 from 3-point (.750) in the period.
“Great game, hats off to Slovenia, they’re a great team, a great 3-point shooting team,” Davis said. “They played hard and battled. We knew they were going battle. They had us on our heels a little bit going into half when we’re only up seven. We couldn’t make a shot fall but we just kept defending and that kind of triggered our offense.”
With a 22-point lead (86-64) heading into the final quarter, the USA had firm control of the game, and it continued to push the pace and find easy looks at the rim, outscoring Slovenia 33-12. The USA’s largest lead came with 44.0 seconds left when Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) scored. Slovenia hit a 3-pointer at 10 seconds to bring the game to its final score of 119-76.
All 12 U.S. players scored in the game and all 12 recorded at least five minutes played.
“I just think we did a great job competing on both sides of the floor,” Irving said. “Obviously it was close in the first two quarters. We just came out and competed at a different level in the second half.”
Slovenia was led by 13 points from NBA Phoenix Suns standout guard Goran Dragić; while his brother Zoran Dragić added 11 points and Domen Lorbek tallied 12 points.
Rounding out Krzyzewski’s USA National Team staff as assistant coaches are Syracuse University and Naismith Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams.
Since the first FIBA World Championship was held in 1950, the USA has won 11 medals – four gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals – while compiling an all time 121-27 win-loss record. Led By Krzyzewski, the Americans are defending World Champions having claim gold in Istanbul with a 9-0 record.
STAT NOTES: The USA finished with 60 points in the paint and 60 points off of the bench … The Americans won the rebounding battle 53-38 … The USA made 9-of19 3-pont shots … The USA previously beat Slovenia 101-71 in an exhibition game Aug. 26 in the Canary Islands.