USA Senior Men beat Turkey
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ISTANBUL, Turkey (August 8, 2004) -- After watching a 17-point third quarter lead shrink to three with 3:40 to play, the USA (4-1) turned a deaf ear to the roar of the feverish Turkish fans, buckled down on defense and limited Turkey to just one more field goal the rest of the way to earn a 79-67 win Sunday night in front of a sold out crowd at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The USA was led to the win by co-captains Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) and Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) who finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
"I think the key was ... we didn't panic. We righted ourselves and played with great poise down the stretch. That's what we're looking for. I don't know if we're going to play in an environment any better than here (in Turkey). These fans are incredible. I think all of our players really enjoyed this experience," U.S. head coach Larry Brown said.
Up 10-9 with 4:17 in the quarter remaining, Iverson, Richard Jefferson (New Jersey Nets) and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) each scored a basket to push the Americans in front 16-9. At the end of the first quarter, the USA owned a tight one-point advantage, 19-18.
Leading 35-29 with 3:10 to play before halftime, Iverson scored and then Wade tallied the USA's final four points of the second quarter to help the U.S. take a 41-29 lead at halftime.
With the U.S. lead standing at eight, 49-41, with 4:17 to play in the third quarter, the U.S., getting four points from Duncan and three from Iverson, assembled a 9-0 run to increase its lead to 58-41 with 52 seconds left in the period.
Momentum switched in favor of Turkey when in the third quarter's final 10 second Faith Sloak scored and Ibrahim Kutluay came up with a loose ball and connected on a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to cut the USA advantage to 58-46 heading into the final quarter.
Turkey, which was just 6-of-23 (26.0 percent) from 3-point in the first three quarters, suddenly found the mark and made five 3-pointers in just over six minutes to close in on the U.S.
Following a pair of 3-pointers from Serkan Edrogan, Turkey had cut the USA lead to 62-54 with 7:58 to go and the Turkish fans were back into the game. Kutluay, who would finish shooting 7-for-19 overall and 5-for13 from 3-point, drilled three consecutive 3-pointers, his last coming with 3:40 showing on the clock to make the score 68-65.
The USA dug in defensively, and Jefferson made a pair of free throws, then connected on a baseline jumper just inside the 3-point line on consecutive USA possessions, then he found Duncan inside for a hoop as the USA regained control and moved ahead 74-65 with 2:05 to play. Turkey made it 74-67 with 1:47 to go, but the USA defense continued to clamp down and the U.S. scored the game's final five points to make the final score 79-67.
"The Turkish team did a great job of staying in the game and coming back," said Jefferson. "We got rattled there for a little bit when they started knocking down shots and playing good defense. But, I think we're getting better. We didn't let it bother us as much as we have in the past. We're learning, as long as we continue to improve. We have a couple more days of practice and another game before the real thing starts and I think we're heading in the right direction."
In addition to their point production, Iverson and Duncan were both credited with eight rebounds, Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) accounted for nine points and snatched a team best nine rebounds, while Wade added nine points, Jefferson and Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz) were credited with eight points each.
The U.S. shot a hot 59.6 percent (34-57 FGs) from the field, recorded a tour high 23 assists on 34 field goals, outrebounded Turkey 33-27, and committed 14 turnovers. Turkey struggled with its shooting until the final 10 minutes and shot an icy 31.5 percent (23-73 FGs) from the field, including 11-of-36 (30.6 percent).
Utah Jazz recent addition Mehmet Okur finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for Turkey, while Kutluay finished with 19 points and Erdogan added 17. Hidayet Turkoglu, who was recently signed by the Orlando Magic, did not play because of an injury.
Having now played five of its six exhibition games, the United States returns to the court Aug. 10 against Turkey in Istanbul, Turkey. The USA-Turkey game will be broadcast live by ESPN (1 p.m. EDT).
The USA senior men opened their training on July 26 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and are pending the 20 days leading up to the start of the 2004 Athens Olympic basketball competition training in Jacksonville; Cologne; Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro; and Istanbul, Turkey, and will play a total of six exhibition games.