The Tuesday quarterfinals at the World Cup of Basketball will most likely put USA in the semifinals. The winner of this next game will play them in that round and be a huge dog on the FIBA odds.
Why Lithuania Will Cover
The Lithuanians seemed to be nervous in their round of 16 game against New Zealand, but they managed to survive. Teams generally don’t win when they shoot only 6 of 23 from three-point range, but the Lithuanians edged past New Zealand, 76-71. It was a choppy and not too inspired performance, but Lithuania got through it. Based solely on that game and how it looked, you would never pick Lithuania to then advance through this quarterfinal, but that was a game in which Lithuania was expecting to win and was cautious when New Zealand offered a lot more resistance over the course of the game. Now, Lithuania has cleared that hurdle, and it has advanced to the stage of the tournament where it always hoped it would be. Now, the Lithuanians know that they’re playing for the possible chance to face the United States in the semifinals. Every other basketball nation on the planet, with the possible exception of Spain (which wanted to face the Americans in the final and the final alone), wants to be able to get a crack at the Americans in a semifinal game. That motivation is going to create a Lithuanian team far different from what you might have seen in the round of 16 if you were watching on NBA TV or another network.
Why Turkey Will Cover
The Turks have to be elated just to be in this round. They were the team that pushed the United States harder than any other team in the preliminary rounds of this tournament. Then, in the round of 16, they encountered a stiff challenge from a strong semifinal contender, Australia. In what was a complete defensive dogfight, Turkey nudged the Australians, 65-64. Much of the opening rounds had been played in the 70s and 80s across various nations, but in the pressure of a knockout-stage game, the pace of Turkey-Australia slowed to a virtual crawl. A physical and witheringly intense rumble went Turkey’s way, largely because Australia hit just 10 of 19 free throws. Even an ordinary free throw percentage near 70 (13 of 19) would have given Australia the win, but the Aussies cracked under pressure. Turkey knows it got away with one, and when a team gets a mulligan in a single-elimination tournament, it can then improve its performance the next time out. Turkey actually played a much better game against the United States than against Australia, even though it beat the Australians and lost to the Americans by 21, 98-77. The Turkish coaching staff is going to be intent on getting this team prepared to play the right way.
Both teams were shaky in the past round, but Turkey has done a lot more to give credence to the idea that it can challenge the United States and the other top teams in this tournament. Turkey’s best will be better than Lithuania’s best, so you have to give the edge to the Turks here – especially since you’re getting some points with them. We recommend you place your FIBA picks at trustworthy sportsbook like 5Dimes.
FIBA Pick: Turkey +5