United States retain FIBA Basketball World Cup, routs Serbia
The United States romped to their fifth basketball World Cup title after overcoming an early deficit.
In the process, they overwhelmed the tournament’s surprise package Serbia 129-92 in a one-sided final on Sunday.
An athletic U.S. team, missing top NBA players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, finished the tournament in grand style - with a 9-0 record to retain the title they last won in Istanbul in 2010. The event is held every four years.
Serbia made a bright start and took a 15-7 lead in the opening few minutes.
That was as good as it got for them after U.S. captain James Harden instigated a 15-0 run which put the champions in the driving seat.
The Americans nailed 11 of 16 three-pointers in the first half and took a 67-41 lead into the locker room as play-maker Kyrie Irving also found his range, while centres DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faried dominated the boards.
USA centre DeMarcus Cousins dominated the boards. Photo: AFP Photo
Irving scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the opening two quarters, when his team mates stifled out Serbia playmaker Milos Teodosic at the other end of the court.
“Obviously Kyrie and James (Harden) were amazing but this has been a great group to work with and I am proud of them. This is as good for me as anything, national championships and the Olympics. This group and what they did was very special for me.” U.S. coach Mike Kryzewski told a news conference.
The Serbs, who reached the final with three upset wins in the knockout stages, fought hard to keep the score respectable in the second half .
But they had no reply for either the United States' lethal long-range shooting or superior rebounding.
Despite heavy rainfall and a thumping loss, thousands of Serb fans watched the game on giant video screens in the capital Belgrade and other cities while many of them paraded in the streets with national flags after the game.
“I am so proud of my players and so honoured to have been their coach for these two months,” Serbia coach Aleksandar Djordjevic said.
“I want to thank them for their effort, professionalism and most of all their heart."