SHANGHAI In a hard fought game that needed extra minutes before it was decided, the USA (2-0) battled its way to a 93-92 overtime victory against Turkey (1-1) at the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Tuesday night at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China.
The win ensured the USA will advance to the medal second round out of Group E.
The USA will wrap up first round play against Japan (0-2) at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 5 (available live on ESPN+).
Down 81-79 with 12.3 to go in regulation, Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics) secured an offensive rebound, and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) was fouled on a 3-point shot with 0.1 seconds. Tatum made 2-of-3 free throws to tie the game. Turkey did not get off a final shot in regulation on the inbound with 0.1 seconds, and the game went into overtime.
Turkey scored first in overtime, and then each side hit back-to-back 3s, and the score was 89-87 Turkey with 2:52 to play. Walker tied the game, and Tatum stole the ball and scored to put the USA ahead 91-89 with 1:58 to go.
Turkey's Cedi Osman converted a three-point play to push Turkey ahead 92-91 with 50.1 seconds, and the USA's put-back on the next possession was waved off for basket interference. Turkey was called for an offensive foul on its next possession, and the USA got the ball in the front court with 14.6 to play after a timeout. But, Turkey stole the ball, and the USA was forced to foul with 9.0 left. Turkey's Dogue Balbay missed both free throws but got the ball back as the foul was called as unsportsmanlike.
The USA again fouled, and Osman missed both of his free throw attempts. Tatum secured the rebound, drove the floor and found Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), who was fouled on his attempt and made both free throws to give the USA the 93-92 lead.
Turkey called a timeout to advance the ball past half court with 2.1 seconds and missed a well defended final 3-point attempt.
"It was a heck of a game," said Gregg Popovich (USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach). "As we all know, it was anybody's game. We will accept the win, but it was anybody's to win. The team that we played tonight again showed its experience and the improvement we have to make execution-wise. We're not there yet. We're still trying to get better at that. But, playing a fine team like that gives us another good example of how we can be when everybody knows what they're supposed to be doing on the court. So, I give them a lot of praise for what I saw."
Middleton had 15 points in the game; Walker tallied 14 points and seven assists; Tatum finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds; Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets) added 11 points; Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers) record 11 points and nine rebounds; and Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) added 10 points and six rebounds.
"I think it's going to give us confidence," Middleton said of the win. "Guys made big plays down the stretch, as far as the dirty extra plays, grabbing a rebound, getting a steal, a box out , whatever. Coming up with the ball and making a play down the end. I think that definitely gives us confidence knowing that we didn't play up to our expectations to some point."
The USA led 10-2 to start the game, but Turkey closed the period by outscoring the USA 13-10 to cut the lead to 26-21 at the first quarter break.
After scores from both sides to start the second quarter, the USA put together an 8-0 run and took its largest lead of the game 41-26. Turkey responded with 12 unanswered points, including a four-point play, and the score was 41-38 with 2:46 before the half. After a 3-pointer from Barnes and points from Middleton and Walker, the USA lead was 47-42 at halftime.
Turner had 11 points and seven rebounds for the USA at the midway point, while Turkey's Ersan Ilyasova, who finished with 23 points, had 15 of those by halftime.
The third quarter saw Turkey come within one point, 53-52 at 4:47 after a 6-0 run. The USA ended the streak, but the margin was still one point, 62-61, with 4.2 seconds on the clock. The USA inbounded the ball, and Walker pulled up and sank a deep 3 to beat the buzzer and make it 65-61 with 10 minutes remaining.
Turkey tied the game at 71-all with a 3-pointer at 6:00 in the fourth quarter, but Walker sank a free throw and Harris stole the ball and scored to put the USA on top 74-71. Turkey sank a 3 out of its time out, which Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) answered to make it 77-74 in the USA's favor. After going up 79-74 following a score from Middleton, Turkey sank a 3 and scored twice to take its first lead of the game 81-79 with 12.3 seconds. That is when Tatum's free throws put the game into overtime.
"Being together, spending this much time together really showed tonight," Walker said. "We didn't give up on any possession. We didn't give up on each other. We stayed together and came out with a huge win. That was an unbelievable game to be a part of. Like I said, I couldn't be more happy that we are the ones that came out on the winning end."
The red, white and blue shot just 35.1% from the field (27-77 FGs) but was 25-of-32 from the free throw line (.781) and won the rebounding battle 51-46, including scoring 18 second-chance points.
Following three first round games for each team, the top two teams from each group advance to medal second round groups and will play two more games. The top two teams from each of the four medal second round groups earn a berth into the quarterfinals on Sept. 10 or 11.
Also today in the USA's Group E, Czech Republic (1-1) beat Japan 89-76.
In Group F, New Zealand (1-1) topped Montenegro (0-2) 93-83; and Brazil (2-0) edged out Greece (1-1) 79-78. In Group G, Dominican Republic (2-0) defeated Germany (0-2) 70-68; and France (2-0) earned a 103-64 win over Jordan (0-2). And, in Group H, Australia (2-0) won against Senegal (0-2) 81-68; and Lithuania (2-0) beat Canada (0-2) 92-69.
Teams who tonight secured berths into the medal second round in addition to the USA include: Australia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, France and Lithuania.
Among Groups A, B, C and D, which play their final first round games on Sept. 4, already advanced to the medal second round regardless of those results are: Argentina, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Spain.
The USA's assistant coaches are Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.