Jul 3, 2013 5:27 PM by UL Sports Information
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Rasheed Sulaimon scored five points during a critical 7-0 USA run that opened up a double figure lead and helped the United States to a 71-62 victory over unbeaten Serbia in the championship game of the Pool "F" on Wednesday.
The victory improved Team USA to 6-0, the only remaining undefeated team in the 16-team tourney.
Louisiana junior Elfrid Payton battled back from early foul trouble to play 23 minutes, scoring four points with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. He was two-for-three from the floor.
Jahlil Okafor led Team USA with 16 points while Sulaimon added 15 and Aaron Gordon scored 11 points with nine rebounds. Vasilje Micic led Serbia with 24 points with Jovan Novak adding 13.
After picking up an early foul, Payton reentered the game with 4:52 left in the first quarter. On his first possession, he knocked down a short jumper that gave Team USA a 10-9 lead with 4:35 left.
The basket started a 10-3 spurt for the Americans that gave them a 19-11 lead (1:28) en route to a 19-15 lead after the first quarter.
With Team USA holding a slight 23-19 lead early in the second quarter, Payton assisted on a Rasheed Sulaimon basket that started a 12-2 run over the next 5:23 that gave Team USA a 35-21 lead with 53 seconds left in the half and a 35-26 advantage at the half.
The third quarter belonged to Serbia, outscoring Team USA 21-15 to pull back into the game. Nikola Jokic connected on a three-pointer with 0:21 left to make it a 48-47 game, but Nigel Williams-Goss answered with a basket with five seconds left to make it a three-point game at the quarter.
Team USA took control midway through the fourth quarter. Leading 56-52 with 6:16 left, the Americans ran off seven straight points to open up a 63-52 lead at the 5:03 mark. Sulaimon started the run with a three-pointer and a basket inside while Gordon closed the spurt with a basket off an offensive rebound.
Serbia could come no closer than seven points down the stretch as Team USA played steady defense to secure the win.
Team USA had a 42-24 rebounding lead, allowing them to have a 14-10 edge in second chance points with 40 points scored in the lane.
The Americas were 31-for-69 from the field (.449) but was just one-for-two from three-point while Serbia shot .412 from the floor (21-51) and .300 from three-point (6-20).
With pool play over, the top eight teams will take Thursday (July 4) off before beginning quarter-final play on Friday. Team USA (F1) will face Canada (E4) at 1:15 p.m. CDT with both teams playing the winner/loser of the Lithuania (E2) vs. China (F3), who play at 6:15 a.m. CDT. In other quarter-final action, Spain (E1) will face Australia (F4) ay 8:30 p.m. followed by Serbia (F2) vs. Croatia (E3) at 11:00 a.m. CDT.