Team USA ends FIBA preliminary round with 5-0 mark

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Bilbao, Spain (4E Sports) – James Harden scored 17 points while Stephen Curry added 14 as Team USA closed the FIBA World Cup preliminary round with a 95-71 win over Ukraine Thursday.

Anthony Davis added 12, Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins had 11 points each and Kenneth Faried had 10 as the Americans clinched top spot in Group C with a perfect 5-0 record.

With the victory, the USA extended its winning streak to 59 games, dating back to the 2006 World Championship bronze medal game. The Americans will next face Mexico in the knockout stage.

Ukraine, led by former NBA head coach Mike Fratello, looked to slow the pace in this game, and it worked for at least the first quarter.

The USA trailed by five at the end of the first, but outscored Ukraine 30-13 in the second quarter to turn things around and take a 44-32 lead.

Ukraine finished 2-3 in the preliminary round, hoping to squeeze into the Round of 16 based on tie-breakers.

Meanwhile, the Philippines ended a 40-year winless drought at the FIBA event after beating Senegal in overtime, 81-79.

Jimmy Alapag and Andray Blatche scored 18 points apiece as the Filipinos clinched their first victory at the World Championship since beating Australia, 101-100, in 1974.

“It’s incredible, especially with the way this tournament has gone. I don’t know if anybody really gave us a chance to compete against some of the top 10-15 teams in the world. But our country has waited so long to be on this stage,” said Alapag.

In other matches, Brazil defeated Egypt, 128-66; France downed Iran, 81-76; Croatia ripped Puerto Rico, 103-82; New Zealand edged Finland, 67- 65; Angola beat Australia, 91-83 and Mexico routed Korea, 87-71.

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