Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 16 News List

US survive scare to edge Turkey 93-92 in China


Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, gets boxed in by Brazil’s Alex Garcia, left, and Vitor Benite during their Basketball World Cup Group F game in Nanjing, China, on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Reigning champions the US were on Tuesday given a huge scare in a nail-biting 93-92 overtime victory over Turkey at the Basketball World Cup to advance to the second round.

Khris Middleton was the overtime hero for Gregg Popovich’s young team, who are chasing a third straight title, but are missing their stellar names and are yet to really gel.

Following Sunday’s comfortable, but unspectacular 88-67 win over the Czech Republic in their opener, Popovich said that the team “got a ways to go.”

There was more evidence of that in Shanghai as they made hard work of dismissing Turkey, beaten by the US in the 2010 final.

“We stuck together and grinded this thing out,” said Myles Turner, of the Indiana Pacers, calling it one of the best games he had played in. “We know we are going to get every team’s best shot. We are Team USA — teams are gunning for us and want to beat us.”

The US led at halftime only for Turkey — ranked 17th in the world to the US’ No. 1 — to tie at 59-59 with less than two minutes left of the third quarter.

That brought a huge roar from much of the crowd.

After taking the lead with 12 seconds to play, Turkey looked all set for a famous victory, only for Jayson Tatum to rescue the US by making two of three free throws at the death to make it 81-81.

The US were trailing in overtime and headed for a rare loss, before Milwaukee Bucks forward Middleton — who was to lead the US scoring with 15 points — held his nerve to nail two free throws and snatch a dramatic win.

By contrast, Turkey missed a succession of free throws down the stretch.

Turner admitted that the US have plenty of room for improvement.

“The chemistry is unbelievable right now and it can only go up from here,” he said. “A game where we can say we were battle-tested and we know we have to keep on building from.”

Australia reached the second round with a Joe Ingles-inspired 81-68 victory over Senegal in Group H.

Australia led 36-33 at halftime after narrowly trailing a determined Senegal at the end of the first quarter.

Ingles, who said Australia were “rattled” by Senegal in the first half, was instrumental in the victory with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists — just one assist short of the first triple-double in World Cup history.

Coach Andrej Lemanis called Senegal the tallest team he had faced and admitted his side had been “a little clunky at times” offensively.

Also in Group H, Lithuania are into the last 16 after beating Canada 92-69. France and the Dominican Republic also ensured they would progress from Group G.

Greece, led by their NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, are in danger after they were squeezed out 79-78 by Brazil.

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