Analysts predicted Team USA to be tested by the gutsy Turkey squad in the previous game only to be surprised when the Turks actually dominated the first half of that ballgame. The Americans had a bit of scare as they struggled to see the ball through the net and resorting to hero ball.
Coach Mike Kryzewski used the team's athleticism to the hilt, employing a full court press to start the second half and seeing the Americans break away with lots of thanks to the two pronged energy duo of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried. Expect the Americans to learn a lot from that scare as they try to pull away from the rest of Group C as they face New Zealand in tonight's game at Bizkaia Arena in Bilbao, Spain.
The Tall Black are coming off close losses to Turkey (3 points) and Dominican Republic (13 points) and is a desperate squad raring to get back into the thick of things. The Turkey game is the one that hurts the most from them as they managed to implode in a very winnable game. They gave up an 11-point lead in the final five minutes of the game which might just cost them the opportunity to advance
"We outplayed them, out-rebounded them, but the fact we didn't finish the game is going to stick with us for a long time after the tournament," said head coach Nenad Vucinic, per Brenton Vannisselroy of The New Zealand Herald. "We will try to erase it right now."
It would be very hard to recover that first win against a very formidable Team USA, especially that the Americans are coming off a very disappointing performance. Twitter was aplomb of critical remarks on the recent performance of the squad:
If the best players in the NBA aren't on the roster then Team USA is vulnerable against the top international teams. Plain and simple.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) August 31, 2014
— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) August 31, 2014
The problem with New Zealand is that they are having a hard time finding their go to guy. They have an irrational confidence guy in Corey Webster but he will not be enough to go toe to toe on offense with the Americans. They will have their hands full containing Faried and Davis opening up the perimeter for spot up shooters such as Stephen Curry, James Harden and Rudy Gay. With Rob Loe the only guy tallest at 6-foot-11, expect the Americans to use their inside game to the full hilt.
Expect USA to use New Zealand as their spring board back into the competition and return to form. This is just too tall a task for the Tall Blacks.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Stephen Curry (Guard)
James Harden (Guard)
Rudy Gay (Forward)
Kenneth Faried (Forward)
Anthony Davis (Center)
New Zealand (0-2):
Kirk Penney (Guard)
Tai Webster (Guard)
Thomas Abercrombie (Forward)
Mika Vocuna (Forward)
Rob Loe (Center)
You can watch the live streaming match of USA and New Zealand via ESPN3.