The 2010 FIBA World Championships reach their conclusion today and, to borrow a line from every announcer ever, it couldn't have been scripted any better than this. A young and hungry Team USA lead by Kevin Durant, who is playing like the best player in the world, LeBron James included, faces off against Turkey, the host country who pulled off a spectacular win yesterday to reach the Gold Medal game. Turkey's starting lineup is huge and features NBA players Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova and intriguing big man prospect Omer Asik, who was drafted by the Blazers and traded to the Bulls on draft night 2008.
Via @Jose3030, here's the must-watch video of the conclusion of yesterday's Turkey vs. Serbia semifinal.
The United States advanced in easier fashion, pulling away from a talented and tough Lithuania team yesterday thanks to Durant, who couldn't be stopped as he finished with 38 points and about 216 salutes to the crowd. Lamar Odom, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay and Derrick Rose have all turned in quality performances at various points during this tournament.
Earlier today, Spain lost to Argentina in its attempt to win 5th place. Rudy Fernandez finished with an eye-popping 31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals on 11-13 shooting. That performance comes immediately after another strong consolation bracket game for Fernandez, where he dropped 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block on 7-7 shooting in Spain's win over Slovenia.
The quality of the knockout-round games has been great. Intense play on both ends with a quick pace that makes for an extremely entertaining brand of basketball. Reporters are anticipating a madhouse atmosphere. If you're late to the FIBA party, today is the day to join up.
Television coverage starts on ESPN at 11:30 AM. You can also watch online at ESPN3 where available.
I'll be around to watch and chat about this one. All normal gameday open thread rules apply. No cursing or pictures please. Let's talk this one out.
Update (1:30 PM):
USA beats Turkey 81-64 and takes home the gold medal thanks to 28 points from Kevin Durant (7 for 13 from downtown!) and solid contributions from Lamar Odom and Russell Westbrook. Turkey was led by 16 points from Hedo Turkoglu but got down by more than 20 points in the second half. Here's the boxscore.
Here's video of a crazy first quarter step-back three pointer from Durant that left his defender wobbly-kneed.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter