This is their first World Championship victory since 1994 – and by winning this event, they are the first team to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Question is: will the same team that won in Istanbul, be the same team that takes to the court in London in two years time?
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points, and, due to his consistant performances in the tournament won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
“He elevated. He was on a pretty high floor already but he went close to being in the penthouse.” Coach Mike Kryzewski said about Durant.
“The beauty about Kevin is he’s pure. He’s not trying to do anything except play basketball and get better. I love coaching him and he learned how to be a really great international player in the last five weeks which will help him be an even better NBA player. He’s very genuine. He’s a special guy and definitely a special player.”
“I want to congratulate the Turkish team for a truly perfect tournament.” Kryzewski also said after the game.
Kryzewski continued: “They epitomised what a team should be and we had to be at our very best to beat them. It was a terrific tournament and a truly wonderful city. I’ve never seen a country celebrate a team better than Turkey. It created a great atmosphere for the tournament.”
Turkey led early on in the first period as Hedo Turkoglu hit back-to-back triples and Omer Asik converted an easy lay-up, to give Turkey a 17-14 lead. Durant answered back with a deep three-pointer, his third already of the quarter.
This started an 11-0 run for the Americans, a run that the hosts could not recover from.
With 7:46 left in the half, Turkoglu came back into the game, following a knock to the knee, it seemed to spur on the loud Turkish crowd, but it was only brief. Durant, who had hit five three-pointers by this time, hit again, and Chauncey Billups scored to give the States a 38-28 lead.
Ilyasova hit a pair of foul shots towards the end of the half, but America were comfortable at 42-32, going into the break.
Durant then hit his sixth and seventh three-pointers to begin the third, as the lead ballooned to 48-32 – and, despite it being the third quarter, the Turkish bench knew the writing was on the wall.
After five minutes of the third quarter, Ender Arslan got Turkey off the mark, points-wise – but, it was too little too late. America were comfortable.
Turkey did manage a 6-0 run, but Rudy Gay and Russell Westbrook ended that spell, as America led 61-48, going into the fourth quarter. Despite the big lead, the Turkish crowd were still in good voice, nothing would dampen their spirits.
It got progressively worse though for the hosts, as a Lemar Odom lay-up gave his side their first 20-point lead of the game (70-50). Turkoglu hit from downtown, but, by then, the game was over. The Americans celebrated their first World Championship win in 16 years.
“I’ve had a great time in Istanbul, beautiful city. Playing for coach Kryzewski was a great experience and I had a great time with my team-mates. I look forward to 2014.” Durant said after the game.
The tag of: “The B Team” was well and truly shaken off after the win: “That was motivation for us all. We worked that much harder to prove people wrong.”Kryzewski added.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net