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Preview: USA v. Turkey, the ultimate road test. With an Olympic trip on the line.

Sep 11, 2010, 10:49 PM EDT

durant_usa_fun.jpgKevin Durant was part Texas playing at Oklahoma. That was nothing.

Chauncey Billups has been the road team in the NBA Finals. But that was nothing like this.

Lamar Odom has heard the fans in Boston during the NBA finals, but he has heard nothing like what he will Sunday.

The USA is going to take on Turkey in Turkey for the World Championship. It’s the finals, so winner gets an automatic trip to London and the 2012 Olympics. Loser gets a trip to their regional qualifying tournaments.

This is a game the USA should win on paper, but they have played in nothing like the conditions they will see today. A building full of hostile fans, with many of them right next to the court. You want to think it is like a college atmosphere, but that is immature teen angst compared to what awaits the Americans Sunday. This will be the ultimate test.

Turkey is led by Hedo Turkoglu, who may be hated north of the border, who may have fumbled away Turkey’s final possession into a fortunate basket, but who remains a deadly man with the ball in his hands. Just like when he was in Orlando. However, he is more of a shooter for Turkey — he had no assists in the semi-finals.

Turkey brings a couple challenges to the table for the USA, in addition to the crowd. One is their defense — the USA and Turkey have been the two best defensive teams in this tournament.

Turkey runs an aggressive 2/3 match up zone, unlike anything the USA has seen so far. The guards out top extend the pressure up high, back line guys will chase shooters into the corners. While the USA’s zone looks like a zone, the Turkey zone really employs man-to-man principles and uses a lot of pressure.

The other is a long front line, one of the best in the world. They start Omer Asik (coming to the Chicago Bulls), Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks) and Turkoglu (Phoenix Suns). Then they bring in soon-to-be Celtic Semih Erden.

Ilyasova has averaged 15 points and 8.2 rebounds a game through the tournament and is hitting 56 percent of his threes. As a team, Turkey is knocking down 43 percent of its threes, best in the tournament.

But the USA is more talented. They are deeper. They have Kevin Durant. On paper they win. But the game will not be played on paper, it will be played in the most hostile environment any of them has ever seen. If they can overcome that, they will have earned the Gold Medal.

  1. Chris - Sep 11, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    Last I checked, Team USA beat Spain in Spain and Greece in Greece prior to the World Championships. Maybe they did that so they would be prepared for Turkey in Turkey. Just a thought. This should be a fun game to watch. Go Team USA…bring home the gold!!!

  2. A Turk - Sep 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    “Hostile” is not the correct word. Maybe a bit overly “spirited”, emotional but by and large able to show appreciation the the winner and good play. No houliganism. Not a lot different from US Basketball fans.
    Excuse us for supporting the home-team.

  3. sidenygames12 - Sep 12, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    myman how ya been, check out this thing that my boss of all people told me bout. good luck today . bye

  4. Hmm. - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    “Hostile” is the word that is always used in situations like this. And if by “emotional but by and large able to show appreciation [to] the winner” you mean boo and blow whistles throughout the “Star-Spangled Banner,” then the members of the crowd were as appreciative as they come. Of course you “should support the home-team,” but maybe next time you might want to pass that message on to Hedo Turkoglu. He caved sooner and was more quiet than the fans.

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