The 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women title game was held this afternoon my time in Istanbul, and the FIBA world number one ranked Team USA was facing off against Spain for the title and the automatic bid to the Rio Olympic Games that went with it.
Both teams were unbeaten, had won their respective groups and breezed through the tournament until the semifinals.
Both teams also survived tough semifinal matchups the day before to get to the title game, with Spain knocking off the host Turks and Team USA dispatching their Australian rivals once again.
Team USA wanted to get off to a quick start and seize control of this title game from the outset, and with tournament MVP Maya Moore reeling off eight quick points to get the basketball party started, Spain quickly found themselves looking at a 15-5 double digit deficit.
Moore finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal as she made the All-Star Five Team along with Brittney Griner. Australia’s Penny Taylor, and Spain’s Sancho Lyttle and Alba Torrens.
It didn’t get any better for the EuroBasket champs as they headed to the halftime locker room trailing 48-29 and 67-48 at the end of the third quarter as Team USA kept up the defensive pressure and showcased the depth of their predominately veteran roster they brought to Turkey.
Spain did close with a late rally and held the USA to just 10 points in the quarter to make the final score 77-64. Spain with the runner up silver medal finish had achieved their best finish ever in FIBA tournament play, and the Australians hammered host Turkey 77-44 to earn the bronze medal.
Team USA with the win repeated as FIBA world champs, captured their ninth overall world championship and most importantly, locked down the automatic bid for the 2016 Games.
USA Head Coach Geno Auriemma said while reflecting on it, “It is very difficult to win the Championship. There are some great teams and they are getting better all the time.”
“Although just because we are expected to win, doesn’t make it any easier.”
One thing that definitely won’t be easy is selecting 12 players from the vast talent pool Team USA has to choose from for the 2016 women’s Olympic b-ball squad.
But we’ll see how that plays out two years from now.
Congrats to Team USA for the FIBA repeat.