In one of the least surprising sports stories of the year, Team USA are in the final of the 2014 FIBA World Championship. The Americans await the winner of Friday’s semi-final between France and Serbia and things are starting to heat up in advance of Sunday’s final.
USA v Lithuania 96-68
In what is becoming a habit, Team USA took a while to get going at the 2014 FIBA World Cup but after half-time, they raced away from their opponents to earn a crushing victory and book their place in Sunday’s final. There may not have been any great surprise about this result, but with Spain exiting the tournament, all eyes were on the USA to ensure that they kept up their half of the bargain. In all honesty, the Spain shock was probably more than enough to remind Team USA that they still had some job to do in the tournament.
Klay Thompson was the man on fire in the first half, keeping his team in the game but in the second half, James Harden (16 points) and Kyrie Irving, who eventually grabbed 18 points, stepped forward to see the Americans home in style. It wasn’t all brilliant for Team USA on the night, as many fans observed that Derrick Rose was as out of touch as you could ever see from a player on this stage. His performance in the last round may have been dazzling, but his semi-final performance was of a very low standard. Clearly Rose is still battling to get back to full physical and mental strength but this sort of performance won’t provide with him any confidence to push on. Mind you, if he picks up a Gold Medal on Sunday he may find that his confidence jumps up a bit.
A strong US defence kept the USA at bay
Lithuania perhaps knew that they were on a hiding to nothing here and the US defensive kept them at distance for much of the match. Lithuania never managed to pick up more than 20 points in any quarter, and when that happens, you know you are going to struggle to win a basketball game. Mindaugas Kuzminskas grabbed 15 points and 9 rebounds while Jonas Valanciunas managed to deliver 15 points and 7 rebounds. Lithuania can at least take some comfort in the fact they won’t face opposition like this on Saturday in the third and fourth play-off where the Bronze Medal is on the line.
While the thought of winning a Gold Medal should be all the incentive USA needs for Sunday, there is an opportunity for them to become the first nation to win every match of FIBA Championship by a margin of 24 points. The 1994 side managed to win every match with a margin of at least 15 points, but this would be a step on if the USA side can maintain their run in the final. This isn’t the best of statistics for the sport or the tournament, many people may cite the fact that the American team as being head and shoulders above their opponents as being a reason to deride as opposed to praise the eventual champions but you can only play who you face. As Spain showed, the favourites don’t always win, and there is a need for players to be focused on the task at hand. For Team USA, there is only one more job to take care of before they head home.
Semi-final match on Friday the 12th of September
- France v Serbia
Most observers are billing this match as the Silver Medal match, determining which team gets to lose to USA in the final, but France are rolling into the semi-final with the highest amount of confidence. The thing is, will France be able to maintain the momentum gained by crushing Spain, or will the French have used up all of their energy in that match, now suffering a crushing comedown in the aftermath of knocking the hosts out?
Bwin have France as the outsiders again, listed at 2.25 while they have Serbia priced at 1.65. Bet365 take the same overriding view of the game, with France listed at2.35 with Serbia being listed at1.60. If France want to grab a place in the final, they will need to upset the bookmaking odds again, but that isn’t something new for them this week. Serbia have been served the warning about what France can do if you underestimate them, and that may be all the impetus they need to take care of business in Madrid on Friday night.
|Tipster||Tip-off||Home Team||Away Team||O/U||Odds||Free Tip||Sportsbook|
|[+] Show TrendsFIBA Basketball World Cup - Men tip locked in at 11/09 20:40 (Spread Result: 86.5-90, Totals: 175)|
|giorgio||12/09 22:00||France||Serbia||141.5||1.87||Over 141.5|