Day 4 in Spain’s Basketball World Cup cities of Bilbao and Gran Canaria had its share of unexpected upsets, scintillating individual performances and some unforgettable moments. Expectedly, however, USA took another step towards stamping their superiority in the game of basketball, when they beat New Zealand in a Group C match at Bilbao. With three victories in as many games, they are ready to march into the knock-out phase now. In arguably the most exciting game of the day, Ukraine beat No.7 ranked Turkey 64-58. Regardless, Turkey still remains a strong favorite to advance to the knockout round since it looks like winning all its remaining matches. In another unexpected result of Group D in Gran Canaria, Australia pulled off a marvelous 82-75 victory against European powerhouse Lithuania and recorded their second win.
Two days after, Turkey gave them a mid-game scare, USA came back to face New Zealand with a renewed resolve. It was Anthony Davis, who led USA’s assault with 21 points and 9 rebounds. Davis was helped by Kenneth Faried with 15 points and 11 boards. Even James Harden was not far behind with 13 points. While Davis was the outperformer, Faried had the confidence of his coach Krzyzewski, who regards him as USA’s biggest and best surprise. The energetic Faried came into his own, when shooting 14 out of 17 in the tournament. Afterwards he made all five shots in the first half in addition to 6 rebounds. Faried was also equally active on the defense and blocked forcefully at times. In the third quarter, he blocked one shot with such force that the ball fell behind the New Zealand bench. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both scored 12 points each for USA, while Kyrie Irving scored 10. USA led 27-20 after the first quarter and also led by 9 points at one stage in the second, a flurry of points took the second quarter score to 30-15. For a change, the Americans yielded to New-Zealanders in the third quarter 19-18 but they had built such a big lead that it didn’t bother them. USA enhanced their lead by the last quarter score of 23-17 and finished with a 98-71 victory.
In another interesting Group C match at Bilbao, 2010 finalist Turkey had a setback against Ukraine and lost their second match of the tournament. It was a very tough game for Turkey against a charged-up Ukraine, who didn’t allow the Turks much foothold in the match. Halfway through the match, Turkey led by a solitary point but by the end of the third quarter, Ukraine’s adventurous hoopers built two-point lead of their own. After that for Ukraine, it was simply a matter of building up the lead and preventing the Turks from scoring. Finally Ukraine won the match 64-58. Ukraine’s victory was all the more surprising as they played without their star player Sergii Gladyr, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered when Ukraine played Finland on Sunday and lost. In Group C, Ukraine have two victories from three matches while Turkey have lost two matches out of three.
Australia had a great time on day 4 with a truly impressive 82-75 win against the highly ranked and European heavyweight Lithuanians in Gran Canaria. For them, Maccabi Tel Aviv star Joe Ingles scored 18 points; provided 4 assists and 3 steals. His team mates; Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova also helped Australia with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Australians are placed second in Group D and they will now look for a chance in the knock-out stage. It was not a smooth sailing for Australians as Lithuania applied pressure in the second half and the game could have gone either way. But NBA stars Ingles and Dellavedova came to Australia’s rescue at crunch time and helped them survive the second half rally by the formidable Lithuanians. Australia dominated their fancied opponents in the first two quarters. But in the third Lithuanians came back with a vengeance. Australians were on the defensive but they parried their opponents with credit. Australia took advantage of the fact that Lithuania didn’t have their key player and captain Mantas Kalnietis.
In other matches on Tuesday, Mexico beat Angola 79-55; Slovenia beat Korea 89-72 and Dominican Republic defeated Finland 74-68.
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