Third quarter surge sends USA through to semis

The current world champions and Olympic gold medallists, USA breezed into the last four of the FIBA World Cup as they beat Slovenia 119-76 in the second quarter-final.

They will now face Lithuania in the semis on Thursday; a re-match of the 2010 world championship semi-final where Kevin Durant exploded for 38 points in the U.S’ 89-74 win.

Klay Thompson led the USA with 20 points, one of six Americans in double figures for scoring. Two players secured double-doubles as Kenneth Faried hit 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Anthony Davis recorded 13 points and 11 boards.

Goran Dragic led the Slovenians with 13 points.

Slovenia struggled in the early going. Despite matching the USA in scoring early in the first quarter, the Americans seemingly had multiple opportunities to score due to the Slovenians’ not boxing out.

To add, the USA took advantage of some sloppy ball handling from Slovenia as DeMarcus Cousins had an uncontested dunk, giving the U.S. a 26-15 lead with 1:49 left of the first. Slovenia’s offence certainly needed more structure as they trailed 29-22 after the first ten minutes.

And for chunks of the second period, they more than matched the favoured Americans. Miha Zupan came off the bench and caused the USA big men all sorts of problems. Davis and Cousins encountered foul trouble due to Zupan’s off-ball movement and fearlessness to attack the basket.

Slovenia no doubt enjoyed the better of the second though, they trailed by double-digits for bits, but narrowed the gap to 49-42 at the half, thanks to a three from Zoran Dragic with 30 seconds left.

It was only a matter of time before the USA moved up the gears – you could sense it – and they did. The lead slowly moved to double-digits and it would remain like that as turnovers for Slovenia piled up, and the Americans took advantage with easy buckets at the other end.

A three by James Harden to end the third literally told the whole story. The USA were all smiles, and high fives. Slovenia: heads down, staring defeat in the face, trailing 86-64.

The fourth was a case of when the USA would reach 100 points. And when they did, what highlights they could provide. An alley-oop in transition, thrown by Derrick Rose, who had his most productive game for the U.S. and finished by Thompson was the showpiece of a catalogue of dunks, as the 2010 world champions eased into the semis to face Lithuania.

Photo: FIBA

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