Final Score: United States 106, Dominican Republic 71
Barcelona has been kind to the United States basketball team in the past, the Spanish city having served as the backdrop for the Dream Team’s Gold Medal in the 1992 summer Olympics, which launched the modern era of USA Basketball.
After a blowout win over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, the Americans are heading back to Barcelona with a chance to do some more damage. Watch a full highlight reel in the video above.
The United States had already clinched a spot in the FIBA World Cup Round of 16 prior to Wednesday’s tipoff. But in winning their fourth straight game to open the tournament, the Americans clinched Group C, meaning they’ll move to the knockout round with an optimal path to the Gold Medal game.
Team USA takes on Ukraine Thursday in its sixth and final game in group play. Then it’s on to Barcelona and the knockout round.
Read on for more on the Americans’ win Wednesday, and check out the full box score via ESPN.
Key Stat: The United States Played Swarming Defense That Led to 26 Dominican Turnovers
There was plenty of offense for the U.S. to be proud of. Kenneth Faried scored 16 points to lead five Americans in double figures. Every American player played and scored. Team USA shot a sweltering 56 percent from the floor. But this was as impressive because of the defense the U.S. played as it was because of the offense.
After struggling through a first quarter in which the U.S. outscored the Dominicans by only 3 points, the U.S. turned up the defensive intensity from the second quarter on and finished with 18 steals and 8 blocked shots. The defense forced the Dominicans into 26 turnovers against just 16 assists.
The United States Scored 22 Unanswered Points in the 2nd Half
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 3, 2014
The United States turned a relatively close game into a laugher with a 22-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
Orlando Sanchez’s jumper brought the Dominicans within 70-52 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, but the Dominicans didn’t score again until a pair of Edward Santana free throws with 6:07 left in the game. By that time the U.S. had stretched the lead from 18 to 40 and removed any doubt about the outcome.
Kenneth Faried Put on a Show in the 2nd Quarter
Kenneth Faried, who’s been the Americans’ most surprising player throughout the summer, was at his best in the second quarter, constantly crashing the boards and helping the United States pull away.
The United States outscored the DR 31-19 in the quarter and built a 56-41 halftime lead. Faried scored 10 points in the half to lead the Americans, while Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins added 9 apiece.
Jack Michael Martinez scored 10 points to lead the Dominicans, while Victor Liz added 8 and Edgar Sosa had 7.
The United States shot 49 percent from the floor in the half and forced 11 turnovers.
The Dominicans Kept it Close Early
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) September 3, 2014
Even with Garcia on the bench, the Dominicans hung around throughout the first quarter. Another former Louisville star — Edgar Sosa — scored 5 points in the quarter, and the Dominicans were within 25-22 after the period despite not getting to the free throw line.
The Dominicans shot 45 percent in the first quarter and held the Americans to 40 percent shooting. Anthony Davis, who scored a game-high 21 points in the United States’ win over New Zealand on Tuesday, missed his first 4 field goal attempts and was held scoreless in the first quarter.
Francisco Garcia Sitting Out
No Francisco Garcia for the Dominican Republic, as he rests his sore ankle for tomorrow's game vs. Turkey. pic.twitter.com/EtWorflh1C
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 3, 2014
Houston Rockets swingman Francisco Garcia, the Dominicans’ leading scorer and best player, will not play as he rests his sore ankle.
Dominican Republic coach Orlando Antigua is more or less conceding that the Dominicans wouldn’t beat the Americans even with Garcia in the lineup. The team is tied for second in Group C and will play Turkey Thursday with a spot in the elimination round potentially at stake.
How to Watch on TV & Online
TV: ESPN2 has the coverage starting at 3:30 p.m.
HOW TO WATCH ONLINE: If your cable subscription includes ESPN, you can watch the live stream of the game online for free at WatchESPN.com. You’ll need your cable log-in and password, or the log-in and password of someone you know.
HOW TO WATCH ON MOBILE: Mobile and tablet users can watch the game for free on the Watch ESPN app. As is the case with desktop, you’ll need the log-in for a cable subscription with access to ESPN. You can download the app for free in the App Store , the Google Play store, the Amazon App store or the Windows Store.
About the Game
The game is a rematch of an August 20 exhibition at Madison Square Garden that the United States won in a 105-62 rout.
The Dominicans are 2-1 in Group C, tied for second place in the group and a game behind the U.S., which is 3-0. The team is loaded with players who played collegiately in the United States, including former Louisville star Francisco Garcia, who now plays for the Houston Rockets.
Garcia is averaging a team-high 21 points. Guard James Feldeine, who played at Quinnipiac, is averaging 9.7 points. Eloy Vargas, who played at Kentucky, is averaging 8 points and 9 rebounds, as is Eulis Baez, who played at Western Illinois.