All eyes were on Team USA as they opened up their tournament play against Finland. Heavy favorites to win the entire FIBA tournament, Vegas had USA as 35.5 point favorites heading into Saturday's game. Of course, our main focus was wrapped around Mason Plumlee.
Final score: USA 114, Finland 55.
The story of the first quarter was Team USA's defense. Their offense was stellar, but their ability to force bad shots from Finland was key to them gaining a big lead. James Harden had the Americans on the board early with seven points in his first seven minutes of action. They led 31-16 after the first quarter.
The ravage on Finland got even worse in the second quarter. USA went on a 16-2 run in the first five minutes of the quarter, increasing their lead to 29. USA was cruising and it was largely due to their suffocating defense. They held Finland to just TWO total points in the quarter, both of which came at the line. As for the offense, Team USA scored 29 points in the quarter and led 60-18 after the first half. Anthony Davis led all scorers with 11 points.
Quick note: Mason Plumlee logged his first minutes of the FIBA tournament at the 1:32 mark of the second quarter. He immediately scored on a nice move under the hoop, despite being swarmed by two defenders.
The third quarter was a little less ugly for Finland. They found themselves down 89-39 after three, but the 21-point quarter was the most they produced all game. At that point, every player on USA had at least two points or more, excluding Andre Drummond who didn't get any playing time through the first 30 minutes. Even with a full quarter remaining, this game was long over.
USA went on to win 114-55 with Klay Thompson leading the way with 18 points on 7-11 shooting. Three other USA players finished in double figures, but most importantly, all 12 players finished with four or more points. As for Plumlee, he finished with six points in 11:45 minutes logged. He ran the floor when USA pushed and dove on the floor when the ball was loose. Both key reasons why he earned his spot on the roster.
But that wasn't enough for one reporter, who asked if he had made the team because of his connections with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Plumlee was, as always, diplomatic ... even if he didn't like the question.
USA will go up against Turkey Sunday at 3:30 P.M.