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USA and Turkey favorites to advance in World Cup Group C

Team USA closed out its 2014 World Cup exhibition slate with a 101-71 victory over Slovenia on Aug. 26, at Gran Canaria Arena in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Petteri Koponen (Finland) is currently the property of the Dallas Mavericks. The 6-foot-2 point guard was drafted with last pick of the first round in 2007 by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Petteri Koponen (Finland) is currently the property of the Dallas Mavericks. The 6-foot-2 point guard was drafted with last pick of the first round in 2007 by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Anthony Davis led the way for the U.S. with 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Kenneth Faried contributed 14 points and eight rebounds while Kyrie Irving tallied 13 points and Rudy Gay and Derrick Rose contributed 11 points apiece. James Harden, who turned 25 (Aug. 26), had nine points and a team-high four assists.

USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski was happy with the U.S.’s performance against Slovenia.

“Yes, it's a game of adjustments,” Krzyzewski said. “We just got here (Sunday), and we played against a very good team in front of a great crowd. I thought overall our effort was good, we can do things better, but overall it was good.”

The USA led 10-7 in the early goingbefore putting together an 8-2 run to take a 18-9 advantage on a bucket by Gay at the 3:15 mark. However, Slovenia cut the U.S. lead to two points
(18-16) on back-to-back triples and a free throw. After a U.S. free throw and a score from Slovenia, Davis closed out the first quarter with five straight points to make it 24-18 at the first break.

The U.S. started the second quarter on a 10-0 run to to push its lead to 34-18 at 6:03. The teams traded baskets for the next two minutes before the Americans made four straight free throws to take their largest lead of the first half, 18 points, at 2:17. Slovenia responded by outscoring the USA 10-3, including two 3-pointers to trail 46-35 at the half.

Slovenia head coach Jure ZDOVC was whistled for a technical foul as he headed to the locker room, so the USA started the second half with free throws and possession of the ball. That helped the USA start the quarter with an 8-2 run, and after a score from Slovenia at 8:13 that made it 54-39, a 3-pointer from Stephen Curry ignited a 15-0 U.S. run that made the score 69-39 at 4:50 when Davis made a free throw. Overall the USA outscored Slovenia 33-19 in the stanza to put the game out of reach.

Zoran Dragič led Slovenia with 16 points.

The U.S. appears to be ready to defend its 2010 World Championship crown when the World Cup gets under way on Aug. 30.

The Americans finished its four game exhibition schedule 4-0 and had a 29-point margin of victory with their 95-78 victory Brazil being the closest game. The red, white and blue shot 52 percent from the field and 39 percent beyond the arc in the four games. They out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 9.6 rebounds and only turned the ball over 53 times while forcing 73 opponents miscues.

The U.S. defense held its opponents to 74.3 points a game and limited its opponents to 41.7 percent shooting from the field overall. The U.S. also allowed their opponents to shoot just 33.3 percent from the 3-point line.

The U.S, ranked No.1 in the world, is athletic and long as well as well-balanced as they had seven players in double-figures during the exhibition series.

Davis (13.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Harden (13.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.5 rpg), Curry (11.8 ppg, 59 percent shooting from the field), Klay Thompson (11.0, 47 percent from beyond the arc), Irving (10.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 63 percent from the field), Gay (10.5 ppg, 51 percent shooting), Faried (10.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg) averaged double –figures during the exhibition campaign.

Predicting Group C

  1. USA

2. Turkey : The 2010 World Champions runner-ups needed a wild card to gain a spot in the World cup. However, have quite a bit talent and experience starting with New Orleans Pelicans Omer Asik. Kerem Tunceri, Sinan Guler, Ender Arslan, Oguz Savas, Kerem Gonlum, Cenk Akyol and Baris Ermis were on the 2010 team. However, 26-year old Emir Preldzic, 23-year old Furkan Aldemir and 19-year old Cedi Osman are the ones to watch.

3. New Zealand: The Tall Blacks are ranked No. 19 in the world and have a great shooter in Kirk Penney and some young talent in University of Nebraska sophomore Tai Webster, recent St. Louis graduate 6-foot-11 center Rob Loe and University of Hawaii junior 6-foot-8 forward Isaac Fotu.

4 .Ukraine – Ukraine, ranked 45th in the world, finished 6th in 2013 EuroBasket. Ukraine is led by Phoenix Sun Slava Kravtsov, Pooh Jeter and Sergii Gladyr. Ukraine also some young guns such as University of Kansas freshman Sviatosla Mykhailiuk and Kyryl Natyazhko.
5.Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic is ranked No. 26 in the world. Houston Rocket guard Francisco Garcia, James Feldeine and Jack Martinez are the key players for the Dominicans. 6. Finland- Finland is ranked No. 39 in the world. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Erik Murphy, 2007 first round draft selection Petteri Koponen and former Atlanta Hawks Hanno Mottolo.

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