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SPAIN 2014: Turkey take on Lithuania, Slovenia look to stop USA in first two Quarter-Finals
BARCELONA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The Quarter-Finals of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Palau Sant Jordi on Tuesday will see all three medallists from the previous edition of FIBA's flagship event in action.
Reigning champions the USA, who are attempting to become only the second team in the history of the event to retain the title, face the challenge of a Dragics-powered Slovenia.
But before that Turkey, who lost to the USA in the Final of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, will line up against Lithuania, the bronze medallists from four years ago in an all-European classic.
Lithuania-Turkey (17:00 Local Time/GMT +2)
Both Lithuania and Turkey came through some heart-stopping moments in their Round of 16 games against teams from FIBA Oceania.
Lithuania needed everything in their reserve to stop New Zealand's late rally, while Turkey found their savior in Emir Preldzic, and his back-to-back three-pointers in the dying moments of the game, to squeeze past the Australian Boomers.
Jonas Kazlauskas' side topped Group D in Gran Canaria losing only to Australia in their five games in the Group Phase, but Turkey lived through some anxious moments before coming through from Group B.
The Turks' best performance in the tournament so far as a team has come ironically in a game they lost, but to the might of the USA. That was surely a sign that Ergin Attaman's team can be as dangerous as they were four years ago.
Preldzic has been the most consistent performer for Turkey and the Fenerbahce forward has shown the ability to raise the bar when the time comes.
Omer Asik and Sinan Guler have all shown glimpses of what they are capable of, and it will need the trio to come together for the first time in the competition to take Turkey forward.
Lithuania, on the other hand, have shown more imagination in their planning and precision in execution.
Jonas Valanciunas has been a beast, on either end of the floor, and the Toronto Raptors center holds the key to Lithuania's hopes of beating Turkey for the first time in three meetings in FIBA's flagship event.
Slovenia-USA (21:00 Local Time/GMT +2)
The USA are up for a dose of their medicine when they play against Slovenia.
The defending champions have been on a roll using speed as their main strategy in blowing away all the six opponents so far.
Slovenia, on the other hand, seemed to be on a similar ride sweeping their way in Group D games at Gran Canaria until they suffered a traumatic fourth quarter freeze against Lithuania.
Slovenia fell to eventual finalists and then hosts Turkey in the Quarter-Finals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, and it will need a huge effort for Jure Zdovc and his team to better that finish at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The USA have weaved together a combination of speed, sharp shooting from the deep complemented by strong rebounding and solid defense in all their wins so far.
The Slovenians relied exactly on those factors in their Round of 16 win against Dominican Republic, when Goran and Zoran Dragic almost single-handedly - or two-handedly in this case - took their team into the comfort zone.
The match-up for Mike Krzyzewski's team couldn't have come at a better time.
The USA didn't have the best of their offensive games when they beat Mexico in the Round of 16, but then Stephen Curry and James Harden, two of the more internationally experienced USA players found their rhythm and led the charge.
Kenneth Faried has been the revelation on the USA front in this competition with Anthony Davis - who like Harden has the experience of the 2012 London Olympics gold medal - and DeMarcus Cousins doing the needful when called for.
The Dragic brothers, therefore, have their work well cut out in order to deliver more than their best and for Slovenia to win their first game against the USA in their third head-to-head contest in FIBA's flagship event.