In the FIBA basketball World Cup, two quarterfinals were played at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. In the first game, helped by Renaldas Seibutis’ 11 points in the last quarter, Lithuania beat Turkey 73-61 to claim the semifinal berth. This means that the passage of the Lithuanians to a place in the final rests on their victory over USA in the semifinal on Thursday, September 12. In the other quarterfinal at the same venue, defending champions USA crushed Slovenia 119-76 to inch one step closer to retaining their leadership status in world basketball. However, it will be the first time that the new champion would be called the World Cup winner after FIBA rechristened the International Basketball Championship as FIBA World Cup from this year.
Reigning bronze medalists Lithuania sent Turkey packing from the Basketball World Cup with a 73-61 victory on Tuesday. After a bit of struggle in the first quarter, in which Lithuania trailed by 5 points to Turkey at 18-13, they bounced back handsomely in the second and finished with the halftime score of 33-28. The two sides nearly matched each other in the third quarter before the Lithuanians raced away in the fourth to enter the semifinal. Lithuania earned a clear advantage over turkey on scoring from three-point land and knocked down 10 out of 19 chances from long range. Turkey, who played a miraculous game against Australia, failed to convert the long-range shots effectively. 15 out of 18 chances went abegging and the Turks’ overall shooting percentage was just 39.7. For Lithuania, NBA’s big star Jonas Valanciunas scored 12 points with a double-double and he also added 13 rebounds, while coming off the bench, Martynas Pocius scored 13. Darjus Lavrinovic added another 13 with 5 rebounds. For the Turks, Kerem Gonlum came up with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Despite suffering from flu, Omer Asik finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The hero of Turkey’s win over Australia, Emir Preldzic looked set for another big night when he made his first three baskets, but at the end he could only manage just 4 more points to finish with 10.
In another match at the same venue, USA made a huge assault in the third and fourth quarters to score a sweeping 119-76 victory over Slovenia. For the first two quarters, it looked as if Slovenia could force some miracle as the Americans had only a marginal 7-point lead at the beginning of the third quarter. Poor shooting by the Americans allowed Slovenia plenty of opportunities to add to their score from rebounds. USA missed a whopping 21 shots in the first quarter and their lead was only 29-22 at the end. As the second quarter began, USA enhanced their lead to 12 but they could only manage a single 3-pointer and with 36 seconds to go, Slovenian star Zoran Dragic reduced the lead to mere 7 points by sinking a 3-pointer to make the score 49-42 at halftime. Then all of a sudden, the game came alive as USA tore the Slovenian defenses and had a 27-10 run. After missing all 12 shooting chances in the first half, Harden and Stephen Curry came into their own to make it 76-54 with some two minutes left in third quarter. Then the game became completely lopsided as USA ran through the early part of the fourth quarter to take the first 10 points and led 96-64. In the end, USA finished with a 119-76 rout of Slovenia helped by 20 points from Klay Thompson, 12 from James Harden, 14 from Kenneth Faried, 13 from Anthony Davis, 12 each from Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.
On Thursday, USA will play Lithuania in Barcelona for a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal game in Madrid. The other two semifinalists will be decided tomorrow at Madrid, when Spain takes on France and Brazil faces Serbia.
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