US nabs basketball gold from Turkey

US trounces hosts Turkey to win its first gold medal at the World Basketball Championship 2010 since 1994.

    Durant of US  was voted the most valuable player of the tournament [Reuters]

    United States trounces hosts Turkey 81-64 to win the gold medal at the World Basketball Championship 2010 for the first time in 16 years.

    In the absence of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and other superstars from the US team, this American squad was dubbed a 'B-Team'.

    But Kevin Durant scored 28 points, leading the team to a victory and restoring American prestige on the international stage.

    Durant, the NBA scoring champion at Oklahoma City, was voted the most valuable player of the championship.

    He said: "Our only option was to come out here and get a gold and it feels really good to bring this back home to the States."

    Lamar Odom added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Americans, who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.

    Even US coach, Mike Krzyzewski, seemed pleasantly surprised that his team won that easily.  "We thought we could win, we just felt it would be a lot harder, and they worked real hard and they made it happen," he said.

    Hedo Turkoglu of the Phoenix Suns scored 16 points for the Turks, who were bidding for their first title and were boosted by huge home support, with fans in red filling most of the 15,000-seat Sinan Erdem Dome.

    The US victory brought a disappointing end to an important day for Turkey as it approved major changes to its constitution in a referendum vote.

    The government hailed the referendum result as a leap toward complete democracy, while the opposition said they feared it would help undermine the secular nature of the Turkish state.

    President Barack Obama called Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before
    the game, congratulating him on the success of the tournament.

    He also acknowledged the "the vibrancy of Turkey's democracy as reflected in the turnout for the referendum".

    The ’12 Giants,' a nickname given to the Turkish team by fans, were a step slow and consistently beaten on the boards. They appeared to be drained from their thrilling 83-82 victory over Serbia in Saturday's late semi-final.

    After all the gold medallists from the 2008 Olympics opted to take this summer off, the US was left with a young, under-experienced team, featuring six players who are 22 or younger.

    However, these young guns from America produced what many of their bigger-name predecessors failed to at the world championship in Japan in 2006. They silenced the Turkish fans halfway through the second quarter with a superb defencive effort.

    There were more whistles and boos every time the Americans had the ball in the early part of the game. But the building was at its loudest when Turkey's Turkoglu made consecutive 3-pointers to give his side its first lead at 15-14 with just over four minutes' play left in the first quarter.

    US held Turkey to one field goal over the first six minutes of the second quarter, extending the lead to 10 on a 3-pointer by Durant. The Americans were ahead 42-32 at halftime.

    Durant, who scored 33 and 38 points in the previous two games, was voted the most valuable player of the championship.

    SOURCE: Reuters, AP


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