ISTANBUL, September 13- The United States captured their first world basketball title since 1994 on Sunday when they defeated Turkey 81-64 in the gold medal match.It was the Americans’ fourth world crown and comes two years after they won the Olympic title in Beijing.
Even without 12 of the squad who triumphed in China, they were still too strong for the competition here with Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant again showing off his outstanding talents.
Having scored 38 points in the semi-final win over Lithuania, he added 28 more against Turkey to repay coach Mike Krzyzewski’s faith in him.
With the Sinan Erden Arena reminding the Americans just where the final was being played, Toronto Raptor Hidayet Turkoglu was doing all he could to further unnerve the Americans, proving a handful early on with eight quick points.
However, when he left the court with a knee injury, Turkey found the going somewhat more difficult, down 22-17 at the end of the opening quarter.
It looked like the Turkish coaching staff had failed to do their research on how to shut down Durant who was at his outstanding best early, recording 11 points in the first quarter.
Turkoglu returned to the court in the second quarter, brandishing a knee brace on his right leg.
His movement was visibly affected and with Durant continuing to light up at the other end, Turkoglu could no longer do the same for his team.
The 15,000 screaming Turkish fans did not seem to be affecting the Americans, who were able to double their lead from five to ten points to be up 42-32 when the half-time buzzer sounded.
Durant led all scorers at half-time with 20 points, 15 of which would come from behind the perimeter where he landed 5 from 9 three-pointers.
His radar was on again at the beginning of the second-half, opening the scoring with a further two three-pointers, seeing the lead go out to 16 for the US.
But it was as big as the lead would get throughout the remainder of the quarter as Turkey, playing in their first final, attempted to work their way back into the game, bringing USA’s adavantage back to 11 points.
However, the US remained calm and continued picking their shots to back out to 61-48 and with one hand on the gold medal with a quarter to play.
With the home crowd behind them Turkey hoped to replicate their semi-final performance against Serbia in which they were able to get home on the back of a big final quarter.
But the US were not about to commit the same mistakes as Serbia had, conserving their lead to win back the gold.
After failing to land a point in the opening half, Lamar Odom lit up for the US after the break ending the game with 15 points to go with his 11 rebounds.
Durant’s teammate at Oklahoma City Thunder, Russel Westbrook was the only other American to finish in double figures with 13 points.
Turkoglu was still able to lead his team, finishing with 16 points.
In the bronze medal match, Lithuania defeated Serbia 99-88.