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Team USA’s bid to defend their 2010 World Championship is officially underway after the Americans cruised to 114-55 victory over Finland in their 2014 World Cup opener. In a game that was never in doubt, Team USA outscored Finland 29-2 in the second quarter and put in an all-around team effort, with eight players scoring 9 or more points. Golden State Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson led USA with 18 points, while Anthony Davis added 17 points. Another former Kentucky Wildcat, DeMarcus Cousins led the way for the US on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 9 points. Here’s how the other games went in Day 1 of the FIBA World Cup:
Serbia was given little trouble by Egypt, one of the lower ranked teams in the tournament, as they easily won by 21 points. Serbia has four players score in double-figures, led by CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic, who had 15 points, hitting 4 three-pointers along the way. Serbia will face France tomorrow while Egypt will face Spain.
Brazil was able to survive a late surge from France, in a game between two teams full of NBA-level talent. Brazil has three bigs that play for NBA teams: Nene (Wizards), AndersonVarejao (Cavs), and Tiago Splitter (Spurs). But in this game they were led by point guard Marcelinho Huertas, who had 16 points and 5 assists. The Spurs’ Boris Diaw played well for France in the loss, with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Portland Trailblazers’ Nic Batum added 13 points for France.
The United States’ likely opponent in the finals, Spain got off to good start with an easy 90-60 win over Iran. Pau Gasol, who won two titles with the Lakers and recently signed with the Bulls, went off for 33 points of 9/10 shooting. He also grabbed 8 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. His brother Marc went for 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Croatia fought off a big performance from Andray Blatche (28 Points, 12 Rebounds), whose curious journey to join the Philippines National team was explored in an article on Grantland. Despite Blatche’s play, Croatia managed a 3-point victory, led by new member of the Brooklyn Nets, Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 26 points. Croatia also benefitted from the play of Dario Saric, who was drafted by the Magic in June, but will play professionally in Turkey for at least a couple years. Saric scored 9 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Croatia, who face another tough test when they play Argentina tomorrow.
Kostas Kaimakoglou led the way for the Greeks with 17 points and 8 rebounds as they defeated Senegal by 23 points. Promising Milwaukee Bucks youngster Giannis Antetokounmpo added 11 points and 5 rebounds for Greece and threw down a couple of nice dunks along the way. Timberwolves’ center and University of Louisville product Gorgui Dieng played his heart out for Senegal. He had 21 points and 14 rebounds along with 3 steals and blocked shot. Senegal will face Puerto Rico tomorrow while Greece faces Angray Blatche and the Philippines.
Puerto Rico: 75
Indiana Pacers’ forward Luis Scola led the way for Argentina with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Knicks’ guard Pablo Prigioni added 9 points while dishing 10 assists for the Argentines. Puerto Rico received a solid effort from Timberwolves Guard J.J. Barea, who scored 24 points and dished 5 assists.
Dominican Republic: 62
The Ukraine is led by Pooh Jeter, a naturalized American who currently plays professionally in China. The game was tied at halftime, but the Ukraine outscored DR 21-13 in the third and Caribbean team was not able to come back. Jeter had 16 points to lead the Ukraine. The Dominican Republic was led by Francisco Garcia, another Louisville product, who currently plays for the Houston Rockets. Garcia had 18 points and 4 assists for the Dominican Republic, who face New Zealand tomorrow. Ukraine will look for another win in their next game against Finland.
New Zealand: 73
Turkey saw limited minutes from Pelicans’ center Omer Asik but came from behind to defeat New Zealand in what was a crucial match for Turkey, who must the United States tomorrow. Turkey’s leading scorer was 7-footer Oguz Savas, who plays for reigning Turkish League champs Fenerbahce, had 16 points. New Zealand’s leading scorer was Corey Webster, who put up 22 points on 8/12 shooting. New Zealand will play Francisco Garcia and the Dominican Republic tomorrow.
South Korea: 69
Angola survived and third quarter surge from the South Korean team to prevail 80-69. Angola was led by SMU center Yanick Moreira, who had 16 points and 10 boards. South Korea was led by Sunhyung Kim, who plays professionally in South Korea, he had 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. Angola will face a much tougher test tomorrow when they face Lithuania, while South Korea faces Australia.
Leading the way for Slovenia is the dynamic Phoenix Suns’ point guard, Goran Dragic. He tallied 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists to hold off the Australians. Free Agent Aron Baynes, who won a title with San Antonio last season, led the Aussies with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Exciting draft pick for the Utah Jazz, Dante Exum, played limited minutes and was unable to score, picking up just one assist.
Mexico played gallantly to start, even leading the favored Lithuanians after the first quarter. But the Europeans came back and ultimately prevailed. Toronto Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 5 rebounds, but Jonas Macliulis led Lithuania with 19 points. Denver Nuggets’ Donatas Motiejunas added 15 points and four rebounds. University of Wyoming’s Francisco Cruz led the way for Mexico with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.