A sluggish United States needed a strong final quarter to overpower Turkey 98-77 in the Fiba World Cup and European champions France celebrated a dramatic 74-73 win over dark horses Serbia on Sunday.
Hosts Spain overwhelmed Egypt 91-54 and talented Croatia, looking for their first World Cup medal, sank Argentina 90-85 after their flowing outfit cancelled out a valiant solo effort by Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola.
The US looked a pale shadow of the team that mauled Finland 114-55 and trailed 40-35 to the Turks in Bilbao at halftime after committing a flurry of turnovers and needless fouls.
With the scores tied 59-59 late in the third quarter, the Americans moved up a gear and pulled away in the final 10 minutes with a series of fast breaks, long-range shots and entertaining slam-dunks.
Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried led the US with 22 points and eight rebounds, New Orleans Pelicans centre Anthony Davis added 19 points and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving chipped in with 13 and five assists.
Congolese-born forward Serge Ibaka spearheaded the Spanish charge with 18 points and eight rebounds as the home side never looked back after racing to an early 19-2 lead.
Guard Rudy Fernandez amassed 14 points and Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol scored 12 against the unfancied Egyptians.
“I felt good, I really wanted to play and was very happy,” Oklahoma Thunder forward Ibaka told Cuatro television.
“The fans gave me a lot of confidence and support and I now feel ready for the match on Monday (against Brazil).”
France forward Joffrey Lauvergne honed his skills for 18 months at Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade and he haunted some of his former teammates, nailing the game-winning free throw to finish with 19 points and six rebounds.
Serbia conjured an eight-point halftime lead but their three-pointers dried up in the second half as 22-year old Lauvergne, who moved to Russian side BC Khimki in June, dominated at both ends of the court.
“I know this Serbia team very well because I played with some of them at Partizan and improved immensely there in my last 12 months with the club,” Lauvergne told French daily L’Equipe.
“It was the most important free throw of my career for France and it’s a massive win for us after the opening defeat to Brazil. I hope that one day I will be a key player for France.”
Indiana Pacers forward Scola carried the Argentines on his broad shoulders with 30 points and nine rebounds but the 2002 tournament runners-up were undone by the depth of Croatia’s roster.
Playmaker Krunoslav Simon scored 18 points, Brooklyn Nets new signing Bojan Bogdanovic racked up 16 and seven rebounds while American-born guard Olivier Lafayette added 11 and nine assists for the Croatians.
Finland rallied with a 22-2 run to beat Ukraine 81-76, the Dominican Republic stung New Zealand 76-63 and Brazil strolled to a 79-50 victory over Iran ahead of their mouth-watering clash with Spain.
Senegal, meanwhile, earned their first win at the World Cup win since 1998 by beating Puerto Rico 82-75 as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng scored 18 points and collected 13 rebounds. Greece also showed little trouble with the Philippines, despite NBA big man Andray Blatche’s 21 points and 14 rebounds for his adopted country. Georgios Printezis scored 25 points for the Greeks.
Lithuania cruised to a comfortable 75-62 win over Angola, and brothers Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic combined for 40 points as Slovenia found little resistance from Mexico in an 89-68 win, as well.
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