Tag: USA Turkey

Preview: USA v. Turkey, the ultimate road test. With an Olympic trip on the line.


durant_usa_fun.jpgKevin Durant was part Texas playing at Oklahoma. That was nothing.

Chauncey Billups has been the road team in the NBA Finals. But that was nothing like this.

Lamar Odom has heard the fans in Boston during the NBA finals, but he has heard nothing like what he will Sunday.

The USA is going to take on Turkey in Turkey for the World Championship. It’s the finals, so winner gets an automatic trip to London and the 2012 Olympics. Loser gets a trip to their regional qualifying tournaments.

This is a game the USA should win on paper, but they have played in nothing like the conditions they will see today. A building full of hostile fans, with many of them right next to the court. You want to think it is like a college atmosphere, but that is immature teen angst compared to what awaits the Americans Sunday. This will be the ultimate test.

Turkey is led by Hedo Turkoglu, who may be hated north of the border, who may have fumbled away Turkey’s final possession into a fortunate basket, but who remains a deadly man with the ball in his hands. Just like when he was in Orlando. However, he is more of a shooter for Turkey — he had no assists in the semi-finals.

Turkey brings a couple challenges to the table for the USA, in addition to the crowd. One is their defense — the USA and Turkey have been the two best defensive teams in this tournament.

Turkey runs an aggressive 2/3 match up zone, unlike anything the USA has seen so far. The guards out top extend the pressure up high, back line guys will chase shooters into the corners. While the USA’s zone looks like a zone, the Turkey zone really employs man-to-man principles and uses a lot of pressure.

The other is a long front line, one of the best in the world. They start Omer Asik (coming to the Chicago Bulls), Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks) and Turkoglu (Phoenix Suns). Then they bring in soon-to-be Celtic Semih Erden.

Ilyasova has averaged 15 points and 8.2 rebounds a game through the tournament and is hitting 56 percent of his threes. As a team, Turkey is knocking down 43 percent of its threes, best in the tournament.

But the USA is more talented. They are deeper. They have Kevin Durant. On paper they win. But the game will not be played on paper, it will be played in the most hostile environment any of them has ever seen. If they can overcome that, they will have earned the Gold Medal.

World Championships roundup: Turkey's fans keep singing, Spain's fans crying over their Tapas

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TEODOSIC_Serbia.jpgAnd it is looking more and more like the gold medal game of the World Championships will be the USA vs. Turkey.

Serbia 92, Spain 89: This was an upset — not a massive, Buster Douglas/Mike Tyson upset, but an upset. It was also the fair result, Serbia controlled most of this game, but a late Spain comeback tied it at 89-89 on a Marc Gasol dunk.

Then came The Shot.

Milos Teodosic went Kobe Bryant — he dribbled out the time on the clock, not passing to a teammate or really even considering it, then when it came time for his move he pulled up for the ridiculously long three. And drained it. With just 3.1 seconds left. Then Spain did what Spain seemed to do a lot of this tournament, some sloppy execution led to a turnover.

And like that, the co-favorites of the tournament are toast. This was a really fun game to watch, if you see the replay on NBA TV. Serbia and its offensive-system will advance to the semifinals to take on…

Turkey 95, Slovenia 68: Turkey continues to look like the second best team in this tournament. Or maybe the best — a USA/Turkey finals would be a barnburner. With the USA players in the most hostile environment any of them has ever seen.

Turkey took control of this one midway through the first quarter, were up 27-14 at that point and that pretty much was it. Turkey hit 10 of 17 from three, and Ersan Ilyasova scored 19 to lead the team.

If you like to compare numbers, Turkey beat Slovenia by 27, the USA did by 22 (99-77 in pool play). What does that really say? Not much, other than the USA and Turkey have both had little trouble with a common opponent able to reach the final eight of this event.

And that they may be on a collision course.