Sunday afternoon Team USA laced up their sneakers for their second game in group action at the FIBA World Championships and it didn’t exactly go as expected. After annihilating Finland yesterday the Americans were only able to pull away late against Turkey, who were led by their only NBA player, the Pelicans’ Omer Asik, turning a five point halftime deficit into a 98-77 win.
Problems arose when Team USA started off the game very stagnant on the offensive end, thanks to not passing the ball much, and missing open looks in the zone defense of the Turkish. Anthony Davis also struggled in the first half, committing two fouls by the eight minute mark in the second quarter.
Team USA’s biggest challenge of the day came from Turkey’s style of defense in the first half as the underdogs continuously fouled in transition, didn’t allow any offense to work in the middle of the floor and switched their defense from man-to-man to zone and back.
After being down five at the half though the Americans responded led by Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried. The duo came out aggressive in the third quarter, and it sparked the US to their usual style of play and results. Playing with their up-tempo offense, Davis and Faried were able to crash the boards, score at will in transition, and also grab second chance points off of missed shots by teammates.
As for Davis, after having a first half limited by foul trouble and spectacular Turkish strategy, Davis came out and scored 11 of his 19 points in the third quarter. Time after time, Davis, who would finish with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals, was making the right play, filling the right lane, and stepping into spots that needed to be filled on defense. He even had a couple of alley-oops, one of which was so spectacular, words couldn’t describe it.
(vine via Umair Khan (UkhanNBA))
While the game showed Team USA that this journey will not be easy, it also showed them that if they want their best chance to win, they need to feed the post and let Anthony Davis go to work. As much discussion has gone around as James Harden being the team leader and best player, it seems more and more clear that Anthony Davis is making a serious run at both roles.
Team USA plays again Tuesday at 11:30 AM ET on ESPN 2, and WatchESPN. For the full schedule of games for Team USA, you can click here.