United States of America defeated a spirited Iran team, 88-51 in Istanbul.
Kevin Love led the States with 13 points, in just 11 minutes on court. Hamed Hadadi led all scorers with 19 for Iran.
The politics was left alone during the game, but there was a hint before tip, as the cheerleaders were advised to wear t-shirts during their dance routines.
“It was an honour to play against your (Iran) team.” USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. A short statement that it was about the basketball, not politics.
With a giant Iranian support behind them, the Asian powerhouses stayed in touch with the Americans early on. An early Mahdi Kamrany three-pointer brought them to within two points, early doors (5-3).
“The Iran team played extremely hard, and had a very good gameplan.” Krzyzewski explained.
The Americans struggled to connect on their open jumpers, and instead, challenged the Iranian big men by attacking them inside. Iran’s danger man, Hadadi, in foul trouble mid-way through the opening ten minutes.
USA, through Durant kept America in-front, but they could not pull away. Consecutive free-throws from Kamrany bringing Iran to within six at the end of one (13-19).
USA though started to pull away in the second quarter, as nine straight Kevin Love points, gave his side a 33-19 lead.
Hadadi got Iran going though, as he got a pair of free-throws to try and salvage something from the half. But, the Americans, without stepping up a gear were comfortable at the break, leading 43-28.
With two minutes gone, the lead had grown to 20, as Billups, Rose and Durant scored to give America a 48-28 lead, forcing Iran coach Matic to call a timeout.
America were, by then, in a comfortable position, Rose, having his best game in U.S. colours, with eight points in the third quarter to balloon America’s lead to 59-34.
Despite the lead, Iran’s large support were still in extremely good voice, as Iran were behind 39-62 going into quarter number four.
Tyson Chandler started the quarter with five straight points to finally condemn Iran to defeat, as it turned into a case of how many the States would win by.
A highlight of a dull final quarter was Russell Westbrook’s reverse dunk to bring the game to an end.
“We were fresher today. Our last game against Brazil was our sixth game in ten days in three countries.” Coach K stressed.
“I just felt after the game (Brazil), we were tired. So that day-off was needed.”
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net – in Istanbul.