USA Senior men win exhibition vs. Turkey
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ISTANBUL, Turkey (August 10, 2004) -- The USA Basketball
Men's Senior National Team (5-1) wrapped up its six-game exhibition tour riding
the back of Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs). The two-time NBA MVP shouldered the
USA offense with a 25 point performance that came on 12-of-14 shooting as the
U.S. took a 80-68 decision from Turkey Tuesday night in Istanbul, Turkey.
Having compiled a 5-1 record, the USA has now completed its six-game exhibition
tour. The U.S. will squeeze two additional practices in Istanbul, before traveling
on Aug. 12 to Athens. The USA senior men opened their training on July 26 at the
University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and are spending 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
played a total of six exhibition games.
"Our style of play is to not shoot outside shots when we can throw the ball inside
to the best player (Tim Duncan) in the world. And, once we establish Tim Duncan,
he's going to make everybody else better," said Larry Brown, USA and Detroit Pistons
head coach. "I'm sure we are going to see a lot of zone and because of that, we
have to defend better than we did tonight so we can get out on the break.
"I'd like to thank the Turkish Basketball Federation, the fans, the people of
Turkey. They made this a great experience for us. We had two terrific games and
I think, in terms of us being able to prepare to go to Athens, this was really
a great trip," added Brown.
Repeatedly going inside to Duncan in the game's opening 10 minutes, the 7-0 center
made six of his first seven shots and tallied 13 points in the first quarter alone.
But the USA despite Duncan's early dominance couldn't shake Turkey as Ibrahim
Kutluay made 5-of-6 shots overall, including 3-of-4 from 3-point, to account for
14 points. Despite shooting a red-hot 73.3 percent (11-15 FGs) in the first quarter,
the U.S. only owned a 23-21 advantage after the first 10 minutes.
The second quarter saw the game remain tight. Turkey led by four, 31-27, with
4:24 left before half, but a hoop by Shawn Marion (Phoenix Suns), two free throws
by LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), and consecutive baskets by Richard Jefferson
(New Jersey Nets) helped the U.S. to an 8-0 run and a 35-31 lead. Following a
three in the final second of the second quarter from Turk guard Kutluay, the U.S.
lead at the intermission was one point, 37-36.
The score stayed tight for much of the third quarter as well and with 1:48 to
play the game was tied 53-53. Outscoring Turkey 6-0 to close out the third, the
U.S. then added the first four points of the fourth quarter to finish off a 10-0
run and open some breathing room, 63-53, with 9:17 left.
Turkey closed the gap to 67-60 with 7:01 to go, but Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
slammed home two, Marion added four points, and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) finished
off the 8-0 run with a drive to the basket as the USA expanded its advantage to
75-60 with 3:58 to play. Turkey never again seriously challenged as the U.S. moved
on to post the eventual 80-68 decision.
The Americans took advantage of Duncan's hot hand and its inside dominance, outscoring
Turkey 56-to-18 in the paint.
"These two games were great for us," Duncan said. "We're a much better team because
of it. The fans were very much into it here and it was great for us...that experience
was great for us. Especially the last one ... and really this game too, where
it was so close for three to three and a half quarters. We got to feel that pressure
of the crowd being on top of us and rooting against us ... and getting some calls
that didn't go our way but playing through it."
Duncan rounded out his dominating 25 point performance by grabbing a game best
11 rebounds, and adding four blocked shots and one assist and one steal. Allen
Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) also turned in an excellent all-around showing, and
was credited with 13 points, five assists and three steals. Further rounding out
the U.S. scoring was Jefferson who finished with 11 points, Marion capped the
night off with 10 points, and Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) added eight points
and four rebounds. The U.S., which was credited with 19 assists, also saw Stephon
Marbury (New York Knicks) hand out a team high seven assists.
Drilling 35-of-59 shots, the Americans shot a hot 59.3 percent from the field,
and were 2-for-7 from 3-point. Turkey again struggled with its shooting, managing
to make just 37.3 percent (25-67 FGs) from the floor, but managed to stay in the
game thanks to 11-of-29 (37.9) shooting from behind the 3-point line.
The 2004 Olympic men's basketball competition takes place Aug. 15-28 in Athens.
The United States men, the three-time defending Olympic champions, will compete
in Group B with Angola, Australia, Greece, Lithuania and Puerto Rico. The other
men's preliminary round group, Group A, consists of Argentina, China, Italy, New
Zealand, Serbia & Montenegro and Spain.
The USA men open preliminary play in the 2004 Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 15 against
Puerto Rico (8 p.m., all times are local time), then will play host Greece on
Tuesday, Aug. 17 (10:15 p.m.), Australia on Thursday, Aug. 19 (2:30 p.m.), Lithuania
on Saturday, Aug. 21 (8 p.m.), and the U.S. concludes its preliminary play facing
Angola on Monday, Aug. 23 (2:30 p.m.). Quarterfinals play is slated for Thursday,
Aug. 26, with semifinals action being held on Friday, Aug. 27 and the final games
to determine first through eight places are slated to be played on Saturday, Aug.
Brown, who has won a gold medal as a player at the 1964 Olympics and as an assistant
coach at the 2000 Olympics, and who most recently led the Detroit Pistons to the
2004 NBA title, is head coach of the 2004 USA Basketball Men's Senior National
Team and will draw on his recent international head coaching experiences that
saw him lead USA teams in 1999 and 2003 to 10-0 records and Olympic qualifying
berths. Assisting Brown on the USA bench is San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg
Popovich, who owns a pair of NBA championships (1999 and 2003), and a pair of
very successful collegiate head mentors in Clemson University's (S.C.) Oliver
Purnell and University of North Carolina's Roy Williams.
The U.S. men, gold medalists in 12 of the 14 Olympics in which it has participated,
own a remarkable 109-2 win-loss record in Olympic play for a .982 winning percentage.
USA Olympic teams featuring NBA players are 24-0 since making their first appearance
at the 1992 Olympics and the U.S. has won the last three Olympic titles when NBA
players have participated (1992, 1996, 2000).
A record almost as impressive as the USA's success in the Olympics is the one
enjoyed by USA Basketball Men's Senior National teams comprised of NBA players.
Since first fielding in 1992 a team of legendary NBA stars, USA Basketball Men's
Senior National Teams have competed in eight international basketball competitions
and compiled a stellar 69-3 record. Between 1992 and six games into the 2002 World
Championship the USA seniors won a remarkable 58 straight games. The win streak
came to a halt at the 2002 World Championship when the U.S. fell 87-80 to Argentina
(Sept. 4, 2002).