When the Ukraine took a 3-2 lead, it looked like the usual slow start for USA.
Then Ukraine led 7-2, 13-8, 19-14, 21-17, and 24-20.
Was this going to be the biggest upset in basketball history?
No, because the US locked in defensively. They started hitting shots. It was tied 25-25.
Then suddenly it was 44-32 and the US was on its way to consecutive win number 59. It’s now 5-0, and heading for a match-up with Mexico in Barcelona.
“I think we played really hard defensively,” US coach Mike Krzyewski said after the game. “The defense has been good throughout. It shows a willingness on their part to play hard and play together.”
“I thought we got off to a slow start offensively,” he added. “Today is a crazy day for us. We already had the pool won, we checked out of the hotel, we’re flying out of here tonight. We played three games in a row. It was a little bit unusual for us. But we managed to take away their shooting.”
For Coach K, it was also a duel against one on his best friends, Ukraine coach Mike Fratello, who he’s known for 40 years.
After the game, Coach K praised Fratello for fielding a disciplined, organized team, led by Slava Kravtov with 15 points and Eugene Jeter with 13.
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“They’re very well coached. They get good shots, and they play as one. They’ve had a fabulous run in this tournament.”
The US is also very well coached. Stephen Curry, who had 14 points, said their defense kept them in the game while there offense sputtered. “We try to get better every game. I think we accomplished that, but we can still get better.”
James Harden notched 17 for the US.
Anthony Davis added 12.
DeMarcus Cousins continued his rapid improvement, scoring 11 and clogging up the middle.
Kyrie Irving had 11 but went down hard on his tailbone late in the game.
“We think he’ll be fine,” said Coach K. “We don’t anticipate a serious injury there.” Kenneth Faried continued his “manimal” play with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Klay Thompson had 5 boards and 4 assists.