F Durant leads emotional USA into final against Turkey - Powcast Sports

Durant leads emotional USA into final against Turkey

By Jared Grellet (AFP) – 6 hours ago

ISTANBUL — Led by Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and inspired by the emotional ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the US stormed into the world basketball championships final on Saturday.

The American team, many of them having stitched 'September 11, 2001' into their footwear, stormed past Lithuania 89-74.

In Sunday's gold medal match they will take on hosts Turkey who clinched a heart-stopping, last-second 83-82 win over Serbia.

Durant was allowed to run riot over Lithuania, scoring a tournament high 38 points in his team's victory.

The second semi-final was a much closer affair with the game only decided when Novica Velickovic's shot was blocked by Semih Erden on the buzzer to see Turkey hold on.

US coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrated victory by dedicating the win to his friends who died in the 9/11 outrage.

"It was a very emotional day for our team," said Krzyzewski. "In times like this, we remember that 3,000 people died. I had friends who were killed in this tragedy. It's a sad day for our country."

Andre Iguodala, one of the players in the US squad, said it had been a unique day.

"Some of the players had the date 'September 11, 2001' stitched on their sneakers," he said.

"We put our hands on our hearts during the national anthem. It's dedicated to those who suffered in this tragedy."

Lithuania had reached the semi-final by beating world number one Argentina of Thursday with their key to success being a strong start and their ability to isolate the opposition's go-to player.

However against USA, Lithuania failed to achieve either of these objectives, not only by falling behind early but also failing to shut down Durant, whose 17 first quarter points was more than the entire Lithuanian team could manage in the same time.

Already ahead 23-12 at the end of the first quarter, USA were not about to rest easy, well aware of Lithuania's knack of recording come from behind victories.

Threatening to break 40 points at the end of the game, Durant was subbed off but his 38 points was still the biggest individual by a player in a single match in this tournament.

Such was his dominance, only two other players on the USA roster would register 10 points or more.

They were Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was next best with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Russel Westbrook of Oklahoma City Thunder chipped in with 12 points.

Durant credited teamwork for his team's success to date.

"We are just playing together, everybody here is one. There's no guy that is better than the other, there are no egos here and that's the major thing," said last season's top NBA scorer.

Serbia had made a habit of prevailing in close games at this tournament, but they could not do it again on Saturday against hosts Turkey.

Serbia took a 63-60 lead into the final quarter.

However the advantage would not hold with a Kerem Tunceri layup giving Turkey the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.

The lead would continue to change hands for the remainder of the game, before Tunceri made another crucial lay-up with less than a second remaining, giving Turkey the lead at 83-82.

Serbia called a timeout, reasoning they could get off one more shot.

The shot came down to Novica Velickovic but Semih Erden was in his face, blocking the shot to hand Turkey a famous victory.

Hidayet Turkoglu of the Toronto Raptors would end the night as Turkey's leading point-scorer with 16 points.

Omer Onan with 14 points, along with Tunceri and Ender Arslan who both finished 12 points, were the other outstanding Turkish players.

Marko Keselj was the best of the Serbs with a game-high 18 points.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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