U.S. wins without apology

VIDEO: The GameTime crew breaks down the U.S. win over Turkey and more

BILBAO, SPAIN — Ukraine coach Mike Fratello said it best hours before the U.S. team got its first scare of the FIBA World Cup.

“There are going to be a lot of upsets in this tournament in the four groups, I feel,” Fratello said. “And that’s because there is such balance. And the team that loses one night is capable of coming back the next night and playing great. That’s just what these teams are capable of doing.”

That wasn’t supposed to be the case in Group C, where the U.S. was expected to have an easier ride than some of the other medal favorites. Sunday’s close call (for three quarters) backed up Fratello’s assertion. And Senegal’s upset of Croatia in Group B on Monday confirmed it.

That might also explain why U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t sound the least bit apologetic about  his team not winning bigger against Turkey.

“We won and we won because we deserved to win,” he said. “Our guys played their hearts out. And that was a really big win for us against a good team.”

Coach K and anyone else who understands the level of competition involved knows that no team in this field, not even the U.S., is going to win big every night out. These coaches understand better than anyone just how competitive the field is here. And it shows in their appreciation of the competition after each and every game.

It’s a lesson the players were reminded of Sunday and certainly something for them to chew on with everyone in Group C off on Monday.

Kyrie Irving summed it up best, given his perspective as a first-timer on this stage.

“We separated as a team a little bit in the first half,” he said. “We had some adversity. And we faced it.”

Shooter’s Game?

As deep as the U.S. roster is with quality perimeter shooters, the Americans have struggled to make shots from distance through the first two games of the pool play

They are shooting 35 percent (14-for-40) from beyond the supposedly shooter-friendly international 3-point line. But Steph Curry is just 4-for-17 overall and missed nine of his first 10 shots from behind the line before he got it going late in the win over Turkey.

Curry’s Splash Brothers partner, Klay Thompson, isn’t worried.

“That’s just basketball. We try not to rely too heavily on 3-point shots because we have such good post players and such good guards getting in the lane,” he said. “You are going to have nights like that I’m sure next game, we’ll go 11 for 20 from three or something like that. That’s basketball.”

Turkey’s matchup zone caused the U.S. plenty of problems, a known blueprint for others in this field eager to identify a weakness they can exploit.

The U.S. didn’t panic, though. They didn’t try to shoot their way out of trouble when they were down early against Turkey, which seems like a sure sign of the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses they have to manage as the competition moves on.

“If our jumpers aren’t falling, we can’t let that dictate what we’re doing on the other end,” Thompson said. “I think we did that a little bit too much [against Turkey]. In the second half, we did a great job of putting the pressure on them, getting to the rim. Once you see a few buckets go in around the rim, it opens up the perimeter so much more.”

Pure Energy

Any questions about the fit of Kenneth Faried on this roster for an international competition should be put to rest after watching the way he helped rescue the U.S. with his trademark energy against Turkey.

Faried and Anthony Davis fueled the rally against Turkey and Faried, in particular, showed that his best quality translates in any competition.

“I just love to play basketball,” he said when asked where he continues to find the fuel others cannot. “Every time I step on the basketball court, you never know it could be your last game, so I like to play my hardest in every game. When you love the game like that it tends to reward you back.”


  1. When the USA has a blowout game why doesn’t Coach K clear the bench and give everybody a shot to play?? Am a Piston fan and would like to see Andre Drummond get in the game for a few minutes at least. I realize this isn’t Little League where everybody has to play, but as hard as ‘everybody’ has had to work to make the team they should be rewarded with a little playing time when possible…

  2. JR says:


  3. Uncle Drew'a grandson says:

    If Team USA wants any chance on winning the FIBA Cup then they need Uncle Drew in that roster because when it comes to Uncle Drew, it’s ALL about the buckets.

  4. Jamessy says:

    Iam from hatti I wish we had a team in the USA there’s we better players I would not say the style is better cause I don’t know that style of play and for all the nba players help there team play against team USA it would be fun

  5. harriethehawk says:

    I actually thought Turkey gave USA a run for their money.

  6. jerome b says:

    I think the key for the us is ball movement don’t let the ball stick to anyones hands they are playing great defense but the has to move on offense

  7. Aaron says:

    If they wanna beat better teams (than Turkey) they really have to shoot the ball better, play the post more and move the basketball better

  8. rokin says:

    athletics, thats is the reason usa is winning and they dont need more, but other then the dunks and aleyoops, usa basketball is not pretty to watch, to much run and gun and no team play

  9. krespino says:

    Turkey did not aim to win, never thought they could win against the USA, as their coach expressed; it seems they chose to save their energy to target winning games against other opponents so that they can advance from the group at second place or third. This Turkey national team roster is the weakest in many years lacking several key players. And their average age is high ,around 30. In the game against the USA they just let it go in the last quarter, and the total number of 28 turnovers by the Turkish side shows way too much. The USA team will face tougher and younger opponents.