USA repeat as world champions in Spain

FIBA said that the 2014 FIBA World Cup was competitive with the games being too hard to predict.

Perhaps they should have added to that statement ‘except the games involving USA’.

The 2010 world champions retained their crown with ease by thrashing Serbia 129-92 in the FIBA World Cup Final in Madrid on Sunday night.

The Americans automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio by finishing a perfect 9-0 in Spain.

Kyrie Irving led the Americans with 26 points, with James Harden adding 23 as the showpiece game in the international basketball calendar turned into a uncomfortable to watch massacre.

“This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my life so far,” Irving declared afterwards.

“We did it with a bunch of guys that came together on July 27 and we have been together ever since, except for the 10-day period we had off. This feels amazing, this is one of the greatest feelings that I have ever felt.”

Irving was later named the FIBA World Cup’s Most Valuable Player.

For USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, it’s a second world title, to go with his two Olympic gold medals but despite leading the USA to international dominance, he tries to avoid answering what most basketball fans around the world are thinking.

“I think the results were dominant,” KrzyzewskI explained. “We had spurts of dominance in a lot of games. We had tough games, then all of a sudden, we would have a spurt and it looked like we dominated. Tonight, we had a 35 minute spurt.”

Nikola Kalinic led the Serbs with 18 points as they finish second, a position that many thought would belong to either Spain or the United States.

“I’m so proud of my players,” said Serbia’s coach Sasha Djordevic. “I’m so happy for them and so honoured to be their coach for these two months and I want to publically once again thank them for their effort, their professionalism, their heart, they played with all their heart and for their country.”

Serbia, playing with nothing to lose at the start, took the fight to the holders right from the opening tip. They attacked the USA’s big men and it worked. Milos Teodosic was finding holes within the USA frontline with Miroslav Raduljica and Nemanja Bjelica the main beneficiaries.

“Those first five minutes of tonight’s game, they knocked us back,” Krzyzewski admitted.

Maybe the Serbs couldn’t believe their own luck. But the USA answered back from being 15-7 down by going on a 15-0 run, to lead 22-15 with 3:30 left, forcing coach Djordevic to call a timeout.

Irving though found his rhythm in the first ten minutes, as he scored 15 points, to help USA gain a 35-21 advantage.

The Americans’ mid-range shooting was devastating. Harden was finding his touch as well and the Serbians gave their opponents too much freedom on the perimeter.

Three-pointers from Irving and Harden gave the U.S a 56-33 lead, when the chants of “fire Orenga” from the local Madrid faithful broke out around the Barclaycard Center.

Spain coach Juan Antonio Orenga was supposed to be coaching in the Final, according to most basketball experts and the fans at home. Instead, he was unable to steer the hosts to that Final.

The Spanish were the closest team on paper to challenge the world champions. Unfortunately, Serbia were not even close. They trailed 67-41 at the half, and fears grew over just how much the gap would increase by?

An 8-0 run from the U.S. early in the third, highlighted by a two-handed tip-dunk from DeMarcus Cousins saw their lead rise to 32 points at 77-45 as the atmosphere inside the arena wen whisper quiet.

A bucket from Anthony Davis brought the 100 up for the U.S. with 1:43 left of the third and they had a comfortable 104-67 lead heading into the final period.

The fourth quarter was merely a case of going through the motions. The chants from the locals inside the arena once again called for coach Orenga to be fired was rung around.

Serbia finished the game strong, but the Americans were stepping down from the gas for the final couple of minutes. The 13,673 inside the arena knew the outcome long before the final buzzer.

Note: FIBA World Cup All-Tournament Starting Five: Milos Teodosic, Kyrie Irving, Nicholas Batum, Pau Gasol and Kenneth Faried.

Photo: FIBA