September 9, 2014 / 10:24 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. and Lithuania storm into World Cup semi-finals

BARCELONA Spain (Reuters) - Holders the United States ran riot in a 119-76 win over Slovenia while Lithuania beat Turkey 73-61 on Tuesday to set up a mouth-watering basketball World Cup semi-final.

Kyrie Irving of the U.S. (L) goes up for a basket past Slovenia's Edo Muric during their Basketball World Cup quarter-final game in Barcelona September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Hosts Spain take on European champions France and Brazil clash with dark horses Serbia in the other two quarter-finals in Madrid on Wednesday.

The Slovenians held their own valiantly in the opening half against the Americans and were only 49-42 down at the interval as forward Domen Lorbek produced a superb performance.

The champions at times looked pedestrian in the first half as their captain James Harden missed his first seven shots, with fellow guard Klay Thompson and athletic center Anthony Davis pulling the strings to keep them in the driving seat.

But the second period produced one-way traffic as the U.S. hit top gear with six players finishing in double scoring digits. Thompson had a game-high 20 points while Harden and Kenneth Faried added 14 each.

Having arrived in Spain with a squad missing top NBA talent who turned down invitations to play, long-serving U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski was pleased with the effort.

“We played hard but we just couldn’t finish in the first half and then the floodgates opened after that,” he told a news conference.

“We are beatable there is no doubt about that and that is why I am pleased how we handled it. Normally you get frustrated but we kept our composure and were mature.

“The team is not a powerhouse and we know from previous experience that it is not easy with a young team.”

Slovenia coach Jure Zdovc said: “We tried and for the first 23 minutes or so we were close but the power that they have was too much for us.

“They are a good team but they are not unbeatable and I think that the semi-final will be very different.”

Former European champions Lithuania, who finished third in the 2010 World Cup, needed a strong final quarter to see off Turkey who made a brighter start and took a 14-6 lead.

Lethal long-range shooting hauled the Lithuanians back into the game as they nailed 10 of 19 three-pointers to turn a 40-36 deficit early in the second half into an unassailable 12-point lead in the closing stages.

Shooting guard Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania with 19 points, Martynas Pocius added 13 and towering center Jonas Valanciunas amassed 12 to go with 13 commanding rebounds.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Tom Hayward

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