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U.S., Slovenia Play Tuesday In FIBA Knockout Round

It's getting close to gut check time.

James Harden has this end down. It's the other end where the U.S. could use more.
James Harden has this end down. It's the other end where the U.S. could use more.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In Sunday's FIBA play, Australia couldn't hold on to beat Turkey, losing 65- 64, Brazil whipped Argentina 85-65, Serbia took down Greece, 90-72 and New Zealand fell to Lithuania 76-71.

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On Tuesday, Lithuania and Turkey play in what should be one of the best games of the tournament, while the U.S. and Slovenia get the late game.  On Wednesday, Brazil and Serbia play followed by France and Serbia.

Monday naturally is a day off.

Turkey's coach, Ergin Ataman, is spoiling for a rematch with the U.S. and Coach K.

After the first game, Ataman had quite a bit to say about the fairness (or lack of fairness) of, well, just about everything.

In the States, Coach K usually responds to that sort of thing either with a quip or sometimes a caustic response. Part of the discipline of the U.S. approach though is that he's never going to give another team something to work with. No bulletin board material.

And he's dealing with a different level of athlete. In college sometimes you maybe do things to fire people up. At Duke, Coach K has done stuff like strip the locker room and tell his players they had to earn their privileges back.

That would never work with professionals, so the idea of using Ataman's comments to fire his team up seems kind of silly. And of course Slovenia comes first.

In the first matchup, the U.S. handled Slovenia's prolific three point shooting very well. That's going to be key again, and after some tinkering in the early (and easy) games, the frontcourt and backcourt have to flow together.

And from here on out, the U.S. takes  a great chance if the defense isn't stellar.

If those things are solid, though, there's no particular reason why the U.S. can't prevail.