2014 FIBA: Team USA dominates Finland in opener

Courtesy of AP / Alvaro Barrientos

Courtesy of AP / Alvaro Barrientos

The anticipation was over and all eyes were on Team USA as they opened up their tournament play against Finland. Heavy favorites to win the entire FIBA tournament, Vegas had USA as 35.5 point favorites heading into Saturday’s game.  They didn’t disappoint in defending their title with a 114-55 dismantling of Finland in the Basketball World Cup Saturday.

Finland didn’t play that bad in the first quarter. They were a little amped with a massive home crowd behind them.  Fans wearing Finnish blue and white filled nearly every seat behind one of the baskets, cheering loudly from warmups straight through the opening minutes  Finland airballed a few shots, but overall, they managed to keep it respectable, trailing only 15.  Team USA’s offense was stellar, but their ability to force bad shots from Finland was key to them gaining a big lead. Shooting Guard James Harden had the Americans on the board early with seven points in his first seven minutes of action. They led 31-16 after the first quarter.

Then the demolition of Finland got worse in the second quarter. USA went on a 16-2 run in the first five minutes of the quarter, increasing their lead to 29. USA was cruising and it was largely due to their suffocating defense.  They held Finland to just TWO total points in the quarter, both of which came at the free throw line.  As for the offense, they scored 29 points in the quarter and led 60-18 after the first half.

Team USA took their foot off the gas in the third quarter.  Finland found themselves down 89-39 after three, but the 21-point quarter was the most they produced all game.  At that point, every player on Team USA had at least two points or more.  At this point, clearly this game was over.

USA went on to win 114-55 with shooting guard Klay Thompson leading the way with 18 points on 7-11 shooting.  Center Anthony Davis finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds and was arguably the biggest impact player in the game. Harden finished with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and was definitely the catalyst for Team USA.  Most importantly, all 12 players finished with four or more points.

Shawn Huff and Petteri Koponen each scored 12 points for Finland, which shot 28 percent.

Team USA will go up against Turkey Sunday at 3:30 P.M.

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