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Lithuania Rolls, USA Survives in OT

Sabonis and Turner Help National Teams to 2-0 Starts in FIBA World Cup
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Both Domantas Sabonis' Lithuania and Myles Turner's United States national teams prevailed on Tuesday in 2019 FIBA World Cup group stage games, but the two teams did so in drastically different fashion.

Sabonis had 10 points, eight rebounds, and four assists as Lithuania cruised to a 92-69 victory over Canada in Dongguan, China.

PHOTO GALLERY: Domantas Sabonis at 2019 FIBA World Cup »

There was much more drama in Shanghai, where the Americans survived a wild contest, edging out Turkey in overtime, 93-92. Turner had 11 points (all in the first half), nine rebounds, one block, and one steal in the victory.

PHOTO GALLERY: Myles Turner at 2019 FIBA World Cup »

The United States trailed 92-91 and lost the ball in the closing seconds when Dogus Balbay stripped Turner. Joe Harris intentionally fouled Balbay but was deemed to have not made a play on the ball, which is considered an unsportsmanlike foul in international play.

That ruling gave Turkey two shots and the ball. But Balbay missed both free throws and after a subsequent foul, Cedi Osman did the same. Jayson Tatum corralled the rebound off the Turks' fourth straight miss and pushed the break, eventually dishing to Khris Middleton, who drew a foul at the rim.

Middleton calmly sank both foul shots with 2.1 seconds left and Ersan Ilyasova missed a three on the other end to allow the Americans to escape with a win.

Turner started at center and did most of his offensive damage early in Tuesday's contest. He scored the game's first points on a dunk, then later converted a three-point play to cap a 10-2 USA run to open the contest.

He hit three free throws and drained a three from the top of the arc in the second quarter to cap his scoring.

Middleton led the Americans with 15 points on Tuesday, while Kemba Walker added 14 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Ilyasova led all scorers with 23 points and also pulled down 14 rebounds. Melih Mahmutoglu added 18 points for Turkey.

Meanwhile in Dongguan, the Lithuanians grabbed an early lead and handled their business from there, leading by double digits virtually the entire second half in their win over Canada.

Sabonis was a menace on the offensive glass, collecting five offensive rebounds while converting 3-of-8 field goals and 4-of-6 free throws.

Edgaras Ulanovas had a team-high 15 points for Lithuania, while Jonas Valanciunas added 13 points and eight boards.

Kyle Wiltjer had 24 points for the Canadians, while Sabonis' former Pacers teammate Cory Joseph added 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Canada — which saw most of its NBA players opt not to play in the World Cup — has been officially eliminated from medal contention.

Both the United States and Lithuania are now 2-0 in preliminary group play and have secured advancement to the secondary group stage, which begins on Friday.

They each play once more before then on Thursday. Lithuania will take on Australia to determine the winner of Group H at 7:30 AM ET, while the United States can win Group E with a victory over Japan at 8:30 AM ET.

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