World championship favorites the United States ended a long wait by beating Turkey 81-64 in the final Sunday to win their first title in 16 years thanks to inspirational forward Kevin Durant.
Still only 21 and coming off his third professional season, the Oklahoma Thunder prodigy won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award with a series of majestic performances.
Easing past his markers to score from a wide range of positions, Durant racked up 28 points in the final, including 20 in the first half after the hosts had taken an early 17-14 lead.
Durant buried one three-pointer after another to give the U.S. a 42-32 lead at halftime and his Oklahoma team mate Russel Westbrook provided excellent support with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The AP reports:
Lamar Odom added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Americans, who won gold in the worlds for only the fourth time, doing so with a team that was no sure thing after coming to Turkey without the superstars from its Olympic gold medal team…
Hedo Turkoglu of the Phoenix Suns scored 16 points for the Turks, who were bidding for their first title and were boosted by huge crowd support, with fans in red filling most of the 15,000-seat Sinan Erdem Dome…
The whistling was so loud when U.S. players were introduced that it was hard to make out the names. There were more whistles and boos every time the Americans had the ball in the early going, and the building was at its loudest when Turkoglu made consecutive 3-pointers to give Turkey its first lead at 15-14 with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter.