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USA knock off Brazil, remain unbeaten into Quarter-Finals
SHENZHEN (China) - It took a while for Team USA to assert their might, but when they did, there was no stopping them as they knocked Brazil off with an 89-73 result at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
Myles Turner sparked a promising start for Team USA, but Brazil kept abreast of the defending champions throughout the first half thanks to aggressive team rebounding and hot shooting from veteran Vitor Benite, who scored 15 of his 21 points in the first two quarters. This was despite the early exit of Brazil head coach Aco Petrovic, who was tossed for incurring two technical fouls with more than five minutes to play in the second period.
The Americans regained their groove in the second half, though, thanks to much tighter defense and sharper execution on offense. Even with both Jayson Tatum and Mason Plumlee not seeing action, coach Gregg Popovich's wards were able to pull through thanks to 16 points each from Kemba Walker and from Myles Turner.
Turning Point: Team USA extended their lead to 11 points in the third quarter thanks to forcing turnovers and better rebounding - add a nice Marcus Smart buzzer-beater to end the quarter as well! - and though Brazil tried their best to mount a last ditch rally, the Americans used that momentum heading into the fourth and cruised to their convincing win.
TCL Player of the Game: Myles Turner stood tall in this game for Team USA. The 23-year-old had easily his best performance so far of the tournament with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals on 8-of-11 field goal shooting. That's a good sign for coach Popovich because if Turner continues this kind of production, the Americans are going to be difficult to stop.
Stats Don't Lie: Team USA's aggressive defense hampered Brazil's efforts to no end, especially in the second half when the Americans' lead just ballooned to double-digits. By the end of the game, Team USA had forced 15 Brazilian turnovers and scored a total of 19 points off these errors.
Bottom Line: Team USA haven't looked invincible at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, but their slate remains untainted with defeat. They registered their fifth straight win and head to the knockout Quarter-Finals with good momentum as they prepare to face France, which lost to Australia by the smallest of margins in the last Group L match.
Brazil's loss paved the way for the Czech Republic to join the Americans in the Quarter-Finals. Coach Petrovic's wards have now been eliminated from contention and will head home content with a berth in one of four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments next year.
They Said: "I thought Brazil gave us a tough fight in the first half. They played with a lot of heart, but we turned it on in the second half. We came together as a unit and executed." - USA center Myles Turner
"We played a very good second half. In the first half, Brazil was outstanding with their execution and passion, and they played very well. We picked it up in the second half, and that's what changed it for us. We are happy with the win and glad to be moving on." - USA head coach Gregg Popovich
"I think we had a pretty good tournament. We had a terrible game against the Czech Republic that cost us the tournament. Now we are going home because we didn’t play well. We had to beat USA today and we knew that it was not easy. But I think we played them tough for most of the game. We played them tough but it wasn’t enough in the end." - Brazil center Anderson Varejao