Team USA swarmed Finland en route to a 114-55 victory Saturday afternoon, abusing their opponents worse than a flock of Angry Birds extracting revenge on some Bad Piggies.
For those of you who don’t know, there is a healthy bit of controversy surrounding Finland’s inclusion at the FIBA World Cup, as the Finland-based company Rovio, makers of Angry Birds and all of its spawns, declared that it would “sponsor” the World Cup if and when Finland qualified for the tournament.
Finland was one of four teams to earn wild card berths, but as the team’s performance Saturday demonstrated, their inclusion in the World Cup may have very little to do with actual basketball.
Team USA held the Wolfpack to an embarrassing two points in the second quarter, both of which came off of free throws. That’s right: Finland missed every single shot attempt it took in the second quarter. I know Team USA is good, but if your country’s 12 best players cannot sink even one field goal in a twelve-minute span (technically, Finland also missed its last shot of the first quarter, which means it misfired on 18 straight attempts), what the hell is it doing in an international tournament?
The pressure defense applied by Team USA was suffocating and relentless, yes. Right out of the gate, it was apparent that Mike Krzyzewski’s squad was in swarm mode. Team USA really has a simplistic game plan: attack the ball, and get out in the open floor. Eventually, once the competition actually resembles, uh, competition, Team USA will have to prove it can be equally effective scoring in half-court sets. For the remainder of pool play, though, the Yanks can harass and run their opponents off the court to the tune of 20+ point blowouts.
Team USA was led early by James Harden who pushed the tempo and attacked the rim through most of the first period. Klay Thompson provided the outside shooting (18 pts.), while Kenneth Faried, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins dominated inside. Watching Cousins bully his way to the rim was fun, and I look forward to watching him match-up against Spain’s Marc Gasol. Sacramento fans, you ought to be pumped, because this World Cup could pave the way for phenomenal seasons for both Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Tune in for my preview of Team USA’s match with Turkey in a little bit!