US survive Turkey scare to win in overtime at World Cup

Turkey's Furkan Korkmaz (C) holds onto the ball as Donovan Mitchell (L) of the US guards him during a Group E match on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 04 September 2019

US survive Turkey scare to win in overtime at World Cup

SHANGHAI: Reigning champions the US were given a huge scare in a nail-biting 93-92 overtime victory over Turkey at the Basketball World Cup in China on Tuesday.

Khris Middleton was the overtime hero for Gregg Popovich’s young team, who are chasing a third title in a row but are yet to gel.

After Sunday’s comfortable but unspectacular 88-67 win over the Czech Republic, Popovich said there was room for improvement.

There was more evidence of that in Shanghai as they made incredibly hard work of dismissing Turkey, beaten by Team USA in the 2010 final.

The US led at halftime only for Turkey — ranked 17th in the world to America’s No. 1 — to tie at 59-59 with less than two minutes left of the third quarter.

That brought a huge roar from much of the crowd and the Turks looked all set for victory with seconds left, only for Jayson Tatum to rescue the Americans by making two of three free throws at the death.

In overtime, Milwaukee Bucks forward Middleton — who was to lead the US scoring with 15 points — held his nerve to nail two free throws to snatch a dramatic win.

Popovich’s team, one of the youngest at the 32-team competition, look uncharacteristically vulnerable.

They lost 98-94 to Australia in a warmup ahead of the World Cup, the hosts ending the USA’s run of 78 consecutive wins in major competitions and exhibition games.

After four days of competition, Serbia look most likely to snatch the Americans’ long-held crown.

Australia, another touted as a threat to the US, reached the second round with a Joe Ingles-inspired 81-68 victory over Senegal.

The Boomers defeated Canada in their opener in Group H — the so-called “Group of Death” — and recovered from an indifferent start to grind down Senegal with Utah Jazz forward Ingles one assist away from World Cup history.

Australia, who were not at their best, were 36-33 ahead at half-time after narrowly trailing a determined Senegal at the end of the first quarter.

Ingles, who admitted that the Australians were “rattled” by Senegal in the first half, was instrumental in the victory with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists — just one assist short of the first triple-double in World Cup history.

Patty Mills, the 31-year-old San Antonio Spurs guard, was also in the thick of it for the Boomers, drilling 22 points.

Coach Andrej Lemanis called Senegal the tallest team he had faced and admitted that his side had been “a little clunky at times” offensively.

“Senegal present some unique challenges with their overall size,” he said. Also in Group H, Lithuania are into the last 16 after beating Canada 92-69.

However Greece, led by their NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, are in danger after they were squeezed out 79-78 by Brazil.

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

Updated 16 September 2019

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

  • Toronto Raptors center Mark Gasol becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year


BEIJING: Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.

The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team.

Pau did not feature in China because of injury.

The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old center Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.

Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and Los Angeles Lakers.

Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.

As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.

Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colors, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.

Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.

In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.

Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at halftime.

With Rubio prominent, drilling 20 points, Spain never looked like surrendering their lead, repeatedly thwarting Argentina’s suffocated offense.

France roared back after halftime to defeat Australia 67-59 and claim a second World Cup bronze in a row — and extend the Boomers’ long wait for a major medal.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holders the US in the quarterfinals, but then lost heavily to Argentina.

“For us it’s something very, very special and important we did it after a very difficult first half,” French coach Vincent Collet said.

“Many teams could have given up, even easy shots we were missing in the first half.

“We started to move the ball better in the second half and that’s why we won this game.”

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semifinal against Spain.

It is still the best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups, but they are yet to claim a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

Deposed champions the US, who were missing their elite names, finished seventh, their lowest position in tournament history.

They did, at least, qualify to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next summer. With 32 teams, this was the biggest Basketball World Cup ever.

The next one will be in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.