Older players help U.S. repel Turkey



Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson rescued the Americans down the stretch.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- When the game was getting away from the Americans in the fourth quarter, coach Larry Brown resisted the urge to leave his struggling youngsters on the court.
Enter Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, exit any chance Turkey had of pulling off an upset and giving the U.S. team even more to worry about in its run-up to the Olympics.
The oldest players on the team re-entered the game with 31/2 minutes remaining, after the Americans had blown most of a 14-point lead. The U.S. team shut down Turkey the rest of the way and emerged with a 79-67 victory Sunday night.
"The big thing was that in the last three minutes I don't know if Turkey scored after we went back to our first unit," Brown said. "The key was we didn't panic, righted ourselves and played with great poise down the stretch."
Struggled again
Still, with just one week remaining until they play their opener at the Athens Games, it's clear the Americans are having their difficulties. They didn't make a single 3-pointer, disrespected the officials enough to earn two technical fouls and struggled once again -- just as they did a week earlier versus Germany -- an opponent, like Turkey, that didn't even qualify for the Olympics.
Turkey also was without one of its two NBA players, Hedo Turkoglu, who was sidelined after breaking his nose in a collision with a teammate at practice.
But what the home team did have was a raucous crowd on its side, and the hot, cramped Abdi Ipekci Arena was rocking as Ibrahim Kutluay and Serkan Erdogan started hitting 3-pointers to make a game of it midway though the fourth quarter.
A 19-8 run including several of Turkey's 11 3-pointers narrowed the home team's deficit to 68-65 with 31/2 minutes left before the U.S. team turned up its defensive pressure.
"It was a good experience for us because we're going to have games like this [in Athens] when there is some adversity and they start making shots against us," Brown said. "We're just going to have to deal with it."
Duncan led the United States with 16 points and Iverson scored 13, with no one else reaching double figures.
Youngsters falter
Most alarming for the Americans was the way the team's core of youngsters, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, failed to contain Turkey during its comeback.
But starting point guard Stephon Marbury also had problems, earning a technical foul for arguing with a referee and going scoreless in 19 minutes. Wade also earned a technical for defiantly rolling the ball away from an official following a call he didn't like, and Duncan shot several angry gazes at the referees when they failed to call fouls after he was hacked.
Unlike many of the younger players though, Duncan never lost his cool and played the role of go-to guy to perfection.
Kutluay led Turkey with 19 points and Erdogan added 17. The teams will play again Tuesday night, and the Americans plan to travel to Athens on Thursday.
Women's basketball
SALAMANCA, Spain -- Lisa Leslie scored 12 points and Sue Bird added 11, leading the U.S. women's Olympic team to a 68-38 victory over France at the Spanish International Tournament.
The Americans, winners of the past two Olympic gold medals, rallied from an early 10-5 deficit and tied the game on a pair of free throws by Tina Thompson with 3:29 left in the first quarter. Leslie hit a layup a minute later to give the Americans the lead for good.
Leslie finished with a game-high nine rebounds, and Yolanda Griffith had six rebounds and nine points.

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