Mike Krzyzewski saw his team blitz Finland 29-2 in the second quarter of play to blow open the game.BILBAO, SPAIN -- The USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team opened pool play in the 2014 FIBA WOrld Cup with an impressive 114-55 win over Finland at Bizkaia Arena. Head coach
In the second period, Team USA allowed just two made free throws and limited its opponent to 0-of-17 shooting from the field While the USA shot 13-of-17 from the field (.765) to lead 60-18 at halftime.
“Our defense was outstanding, forcing 31 turnovers and to only give up I think five assists, I just thought our guys played very hard the whole time," said Krzyzewski. "We won by a lot of points, but I think Finland is a good team. I think they are a well coached (team). Their fans were terrific. What a nice atmosphere, and it was an honor to play them.”
All 12 U.S. players scored, led by 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 marksmanship from beyond the 3-point arc by Klay Thompson. Anthony Davis was 6-of-8 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line to finish with 17 points; Derrick Rose also was 5-of-5 from the line on his way to 12 points and three assists; and Rudy Gay added 10 points and five rebounds.
Duke's Kyrie Irving scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting and added two rebounds, four assists and two steals, while former Blue Devil teammate Mason Plumlee tallied six points and three steals in 12 minutes of action.
It seemed that more than half of the 11,300 fans in the at-capacity Bizkaia Arena were Finnish, and buoyed by the crowd, Finland, which was playing in its first FIBA World Cup contest, trailed 17-12 to start the game before the USA made its move. James Harden (Houston Rockets) recaptured what would have been a U.S. turnover and found Gay for an alley-oop at 3:15, which ignited a 14-4 U.S. run that closed the first quarter with the USA leading 31-16.
“Yeah, our coaches were encouraging us to keep up that effort by telling us at every timeout, every dead ball that they only had two points or whatever,” said Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), who dished out a game-high five assists. “That’s just motivation to keep doing what we’re doing. Defense is going to be the key for us throughout this tournament. We’re going to make shots. We’re going to miss some shots. It’s just a matter of how our effort on defense is every night to get to where we want to go.”
The USA broke triple-digits on the scoreboard at 5:22 in the fourth quarter when Gay finished a fast-break that was started by a steal and assist from Irving, and the USA secured an easy win.
The USA faces Turkey at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 31 (ESPN) in a rematch of the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game, a contest in which the USA claimed an 81-64 victory. Following a day off on Sept. 1, the USA resumes play Sept. 2 facing New Zealand at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2). The U.S. will go against the Dominican Republic at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 3 (ESPN2) and will conclude its preliminary play on Sept. 4 facing Ukraine at 11:30 a.m. EDT (ESPN2).
The USA controlled the glass and outrebounded Finland 46 to 31 … The U.S. shot a blazing 58.9 percent from the floor in the game, and made 62.8 percent (25-35 FGs) of its shots in the first half … The USA outscored Finland 34-6 in the paint, outscored the Fins 27-2 off of turnovers and out did Finland 20-0 in fast-break points ... the 59-point win was the USA’s largest margin of victory in FIBA World Cup play since NBA players have been included on rosters (1994).
A complete game story, quotes, notes, photo galleries and more are available at www.usabasketball.com.