U.S. and Slovenia advance as Lithuania suffer

Tue Sep 2, 2014 6:11pm EDT
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By Zoran Milosavljevic

(Reuters) - Holders United States and dark horses Slovenia eased into the basketball World Cup knockout stages with two games to spare but eastern European giants Lithuania left themselves with work to do after a surprise defeat by Australia on Tuesday.

Unfancied Ukraine produced the day’s other upset with a 64-58 defeat of Turkey while the Dominican Republic boosted their own hopes after a 74-68 success against Finland.

The Americans looked a little fazed as New Zealand’s Tall Blacks performed their traditional pre-game haka, but showed no nerves in a one-sided contest as Anthony Davis led the charge with 21 points and nine rebounds in a 98-71 rout.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski, who criticised his team after a tepid first-half display in Sunday’s 98-77 win over Turkey, praised his men this time and singled out New Orleans Pelicans centre Davis.

"It was a good, solid performance and I thought the intensity was excellent," the 67-year old from Chicago, who has won four NCAA titles with Duke University, told reporters.

"We beat a team that really executes well and plays hard every second they are out there.

"Anthony is one of the best players in the world. We saw that developing in the (2012) Olympics, and I think him being around all those great players helped him."

With the NBA's top players declining invitations to play in the World Cup, a weakened but hungry-looking U.S. team were helped by 12 points apiece from Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.    Continued...