USA vs. Serbia: Live Score, Highlights for 2014 FIBA World Cup Championship Game

After two weeks of play, the field for the 2014 FIBA World Cup has been narrowed down to Serbia and Team USA for the title game Sunday in Madrid, Spain.

The Americans have coasted to this point, as they’re undefeated and the smallest margin of victory was 21 points against Turkey.

Serbia may be the toughest test yet, thanks in large part to Milos Teodosic.

The 6’5″ Serbian guard is averaging 14 points during the tournament, but he’s been especially dangerous lately, averaging 23.5 points in his team’s last two games.

U.S. guards Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and James Harden have never been known for their defense, so reserve Klay Thompson could have a bigger role. The three-and-D specialist should have a better shot at slowing Teodosic down than any other American.

 

Tipoff3 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN2

 

Keys to the Game

Serbia will need a miracle, maybe even a few miracles, to upset the heavily favored Team USA. The Serbians will have to try to slow the pace way down, pack the paint, hope USA goes cold from the outside and get a huge game from Teodosic.

On the other end, the Americans have done their best work in this tournament during second halves, when their opponents wear down and fast-break opportunities are more readily available.

If they work the ball inside to their more athletic bigs, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis, early, they could get to that point sooner.

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USA vs. Serbia: TV Info, Live Stream and Preview for 2014 FIBA Championship

One game remains in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, as the United States and Serbia will battle for a gold medal.

Team USA has dominated the competition to this point, winning all eight of its games by at least 20 points. With a roster full of NBA All-Stars and other top players in the league, there is no questioning the talent on the squad.

On the other hand, Serbia had a much tougher path to the final. The team went just 2-3 in the group stage to barely earn a spot in the knockout round. Things turned around from there, though, as wins over Greece, Brazil and France show the team just keeps getting better.

While defeating the U.S. will be a tough task, we should have learned by now not to count out this quality group. This is certain to be an exciting matchup, so take a look at this guide to keep you informed with everything you need to know. 

 

When: Sunday, Sept. 14

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Where: Madrid, Spain

Watch: ESPN2

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

Key Player for Serbia: Miroslav Raduljica

While Miroslav Raduljica is not the team’s leading scorer, he might be the most important player on the floor in this game.

The U.S. has gotten by with its size and athleticism in the low post, getting plenty of second-chance points and other easy buckets in the paint. The 7-foot Serbian star has to be able to keep the ball away from Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and others.

Raduljica spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 3.8 points in 9.7 minutes per game. He has fared much better in this tournament, averaging 13.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He has reached double figures each time out as a quality inside presence for Serbia.

The key for him is to use his size to contribute more on the boards. He has to not only score but also give his team second opportunities on offense, as well as limiting opposing possessions to one shot.

If he can pick up his defensive efforts, Serbia will be in good shape.

 

Key Player for USA: Kyrie Irving

On a team full of talented players, you need someone who can help get the most out of everyone. 

Kyrie Irving has done a good job at point guard, making plays for himself while also spreading the ball around to everyone on the floor.

He spoke earlier in the tournament about becoming something of a leader on the court, via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

There’s no one main leader on this team.

I just try to bring the confidence that I have in myself to this team that we’re the best in the world. We have respect for all the other countries and what they do, but…we have the best players in the world playing for our team [and now] we just have to go out and prove it every night.

Irving is averaging 10.8 points and 3.5 assists per game and is coming off arguably his best performance with 18 points against Lithuania.

Still, it is not the points that the U.S. needs. Irving has to figure out ways to create ball movement in the offense and make sure the squad can keep scoring as well as it has to this point.

 

Prediction

Serbia has showcased a lot of balance offensively with Milos Teodosic doing a great job creating plays at point guard. With Raduljica and Nemanja Bjelica scoring down low and Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting well from the outside, this team can score with anyone.

John Schuhmann of NBA.com notes how well the offense has played in recent games:

However, the U.S. is simply too good to beat. Every player who comes on the floor is an elite talent who can create his own shot and score with incredible efficiency.

Davis and Faried have also been forces down low and should be able to keep dominating the boards.

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press even provided his own recap before the Sunday tipoff:

Expect the contest to be close in the early going as both teams bring their best effort. The problem is Team USA plays too fast and has too much depth for Serbia to stick around in the game. 

The Americans should be able to pull away late in this one and secure the gold medal.

Predicted Score: USA 91, Serbia 72

 

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France vs. Lithuania: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 3rd-Place Game

After losing to USA and Serbia in their respective semifinal matchups, France and Lithuania are set to do battle in the consolation game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Saturday.

Lithuania will likely look to pound the ball inside with big man Jonas Valanciunas, while France will attack from the perimeter with Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw.

 

Tipoff12 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN3.com

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Lithuania vs. France: 2014 FIBA 3rd Place Game Live Stream and Preview

For Lithuania and France, the journey is far from over at the 2014 FIBA World Cup after losses in the semifinals.

Saturday, the two sides will meet in the 3rd Place Game for one final fleeting shot at glory on the international stage before the United States takes on Serbia in the final.

Lithuania encountered Team USA at precisely the wrong time as Mike Krzyzewski’s team seemed to hit full stride, while France rallied and lost a heartbreaker at the hands of Serbia late.

Below, let’s profile the two teams and everything else there is to know about Saturday’s showdown.

 

When: Saturday, September 13 at 12 p.m. ET 

Where: Palacio de Los Deportes, Madrid, Spain

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

The Road for Lithuania

After a somewhat mediocre performance in Group play, Jonas Valanciunas of the NBA‘s Toronto Raptors got off to a hot start in the knockout stages and never looked back.

In fact, Valanciunas had a coming out party of sorts in the team’s first knockout game against New Zealand. En route to the 76-71 triumph, he did much to counteract 26 points from Corey Webster by posting 22 of his own to go with 13 rebound and three blocks.

Valanciunas then took a back seat to Renaldas Seibutis in the next round, despite what was supposed to be an epic matchup beneath the rim between he and Omer Asik.

It wound up being a 73-61 victory over Turkey. Seibutis scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including a perfect mark on all three of his attempts from deep and four attempts at the foul line.

As hinted, though, the streak of good fortune for the Lithuanians came to a screeching halt in the semifinals against Team USA. Valanciunas poured in 15 points, as did Mindaugas Kuzminskas, but the impressive dominance the team had displayed beneath the rim to that point was nullified by a ridiculous shooting night from the Americans.

Led by Kyrie Irving‘s 18 points, Team USA shot 47.5 percent from the field while Lithuania mostly relied on trips to the foul line for production, attempting 42 shots. It obviously was not the desired end result, but Valanciunas and Co. can take solace in the fact that if they connect on more than just 17 field goals, the will stand a great chance in Saturday’s game.

 

The Road for France

Led by NBA players such as Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), and Boris Diaw (Spurs), France followed a somewhat similar path through the knockout portion of the bracket after a showing that can only be described as lackluster in the Group stage.

Thanks to a consistent second half in which the French side scored 46 if its 69 points, the team scored a five-point win over Croatia to advance. Batum led the way with 14 points despite missing on all six of his attempts from deep.

Still, Batum’s performance was a sign of much bigger things to come.

France then did the unthinkable by taking down Spain and an elite front line consisting of Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. That trio was limited to just 22 points in the 65-52 upset, 17 of which came from Pau.

Diaw led the way for France there, scoring 15 points while Gobert controlled the glass with 13 boards. He said after the fact that his team rallied around his efforts in the paint.

“I knew everybody was expecting me to help the team,” said Gobert, per ESPN.com’s Mark Woods. “Everybody knew I could stop them. That was just my mission. Everyone else played great offensively. I just had to stop Pau. He’s one of the best players in the world and if you stop him, they’re not as strong.”

Like Lithuania, though, the French appeared gassed Friday in the semifinals against Serbia in the 90-85 loss. Even a ridiculous 35 points from Batum was not enough to stop the Serbian side, which shot 57.1 percent from the field.

As Sportando documents, though, Batum’s recent momentum seems to bode well for Saturday’s contest:

Indeed, the game that takes a back seat to the final seems sure to entertain with plenty of offense.

 

3rd Place Game Preview and Prediction

As one can glean from their respective paths, this one has the making of an inside-out battle of epic proportions.

Valanciunas and Lithuania can rather easily take over a game in the paint, control the tempo via the glass and steal a win, especially with France coming off less recovery time after a loss. As Adam Papageorgiou of Magicbasketballonline.com muses, the team might be too gassed to give 100 percent:

Then again, that same time gap could mean Batum and the French side come out red hot, continue their superb shooting ways and run the Lithuanians out of the gym. 

Expect that to happen Saturday. France is on fire at the moment, and not only is it impressive the team shut down the likes of Spain in the paint, players such as Diaw (13 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s loss) put things over the top as he can once again help turn the tide beneath the rim.

Regardless of the winner, kudos goes to both sides for making it this far. Lithuania managed to do it without Mantas Kalnietis, while France made a deep run sans Tony Parker and Joakim Noah.

Still, it is difficult to get past the spotty shooting from Lithuania at times, and although both teams lost in the semifinals, France has a ton of positive momentum in comparison to Lithuania.

Prediction: France 88, Lithuania 84

 

Full updated tournament bracket can be viewed at FIBA.com. Stats and info via ESPN and FIBA.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Serbia vs. France: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 2014 Semifinal

After stunning upsets in the quarterfinals against Brazil and Spain, Serbia and France are now set to take each other on in the semifinals of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Serbia demolished Brazil Wednesday by a final score of 84-56, thanks in large part to a huge 23-point performance from Milos Teodosic.

Later that day, France pulled off the upset of the tourney, beating Spain 65-52 thanks to a stifling defensive effort led by reserve center Rudy Gobert, whose 13 rebounds were more than the combined total of Marc and Pau Gasol.

 

TipoffESPN2

Coverage: 4 p.m. ET

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Beck/Bucher Debate: Which Players Will Live Up to Their Big-Money Deals?

There was no shortage of big-name free agents on the move this offseason, with the landscape of the NBA transformed by some big-money deals. Which teams will ultimately regret giving out such large contracts?

Find out which players Howard Beck and Ric Bucher believe will earn their money as they debate the topic in the video above. 

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Serbia vs. Brazil: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 2014 Quarterfinal

In the third quarterfinal matchup of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, Serbia will take on Brazil in Madrid’s Palacio de los Deportes.

The two teams faced off in group play, with Brazil winning by a final score of 81-73. Marquinhos Vieira scored 21 points to lead Brazil. while Leandro Barbosa added 16.

 

Tipoff: 12 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN2 

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France vs. Spain: TV Info, Live Stream and Preview for FIBA World Cup 2014

Two of the most talented basketball teams in the world will face off with a spot in the FIBA World Cup semifinals on the line as Spain battles France.

Spain earned an 88-64 win when the two competed during the group stage, but this does not matter as the two sides head into the single-elimination match. All it takes is one upset for Spain to turn from one of the favorites to win a gold to being off the medal stand.

With plenty of NBA talent on both ends of the court, this is certain to be an exciting game with both teams giving it all they have to win. Here is a guide to help you follow all the action.

 

Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Time: 4 p.m. ET

Location: Palacio de los Deportes de la Comunidad, Madrid, Spain

TV: ESPN2

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

Before this tournament began, most expected Spain and the United States to compete in the finals. ESPN’s Marc Stein discussed why Team USA would have problems in a potential matchup:

After the group stage, this thought process has not changed, according to Turner Sports’ Matt Winer:

However, it is important not to look ahead in any sport, especially with a team like France waiting to pull off an upset.

Even without Tony Parker, the French are loaded with big-time players like Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier. The problem is none of these players have been hitting their shots from the outside as well as they have shown in the past.

If the squad can pick up the three-point shooting from the 32.8 percent it has been to this point in the tournament, it will have much more success.

Meanwhile, the team does not need to add any motivation. Forward Mickael Gelabale explained after the last match, “Once again Spain, and once again it will be a fight. We have three days to prepare for this game. France and Spain is like a classico game and everybody is waiting for it,” via FIBA.com.

France will certainly come through with its full effort to stay alive in this tournament and earn a spot in the semifinals.

Unfortunately, this still will likely not be enough against the host nation. Spain has been scary good in this tournament, even when facing top competition in Group A.

Ricky Rubio has done a great job spreading the ball around as Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Juan Carlos Navarro have been excellent. Still, the top performer has been Pau Gasol, who is averaging 20.5 points and 5.5 rebounds so far. 

Although Gasol has seemingly struggled over the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he is looking good at the World Cup, as Zach Harper of CBS Sports noted:

The front line helped Spain outscore France 42-28 in the paint last game, and the difference should be even bigger this time around. There is simply too much talent on this roster to stop before the finals.

Prediction: Spain 91, France 78

 

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Brazil vs. Argentina: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 2014 Round of 16

We’re on to the elimination round of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and Brazil and Argentina compete Sunday at 4 p.m. ET for a bid to a quarterfinal matchup against Serbia. 

Argentina has been led by Indiana Pacers forward Luis Scola, who has averaged 21 points and nine rebounds per game over the tournament. Facundo Campazzo and Pablo Prigioni have handled the point guard duties effectively, averaging 5.0 and 4.4 assists, respectively. 

Brazil has staggered their scoring well, with six players posting at least eight points per game. Leandro Barbosa, at 31 years of age, has led the team in scoring with 13.6 a game, while Anderson Varejao has been the squad’s leading rebounder with 7.6 per contest. Marcelinho Huertas has put on a beautiful passing display over his five games, dishing five or more assists in three games. 

Argentina will need to compete with Brazil’s glut of NBA-caliber big men in Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter. The Argentines have shot well from along the perimeter, but the difference today could come from inside the arc, where Brazil has asserted themselves thus far.

You can catch this one at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN3. Be sure to follow along here through the final horn for live updates. 

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Serbia vs. Greece: Live Score and Highlights for FIBA World Cup 2014

Serbia and Greece will square off Sunday afternoon in the round of 16 at the FIBA World Cup in Madrid.

Be sure to catch current NBA players Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nick Calathes, incoming rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic and former NBA big man Nenad Krstic at 12 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

Keep it right here as Bleacher Report provides you with live coverage throughout the game.

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