domingo, 14 de septiembre de 2014


Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

United States team proclaimed winner of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Spain 2014 after beating Serbia 129-92 in a match in which Mike Kryzewski´s men confirmed once again what was a constant throughout the whole competition: their remarkable superiority over the rest of national squads.

And they did it against a Serbian lineup which directed by its coach Sasha Djordjevic made a great tournament, getting a rather praiseworthy silver medal and fighting to the point of exhaustion, though they couldn´t finally do anything to stop the American team, a real bulldozer of collective play (which would ultimately defat them with a difference of 37 points) based on a formidable defense with steady steals and intimidation inside the paint, an impressive athletic ability in each of its players enabling them to keep identical physical performance during the four quarters of every game, constant lethal fast breaks, very wise shooting selections (with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving as a trio of elite snipers) and a commendable strenuous effort on the court by all of its men, to which must be added the great performance in this final game of three players of the United States team: Kyrie Irving, the best dribbler and penetrator into basket NBA playmaker,

Kyrie Irving, point guard of the United States team. His superb performance in this final game made him be named MVP of the match.

chosen MVP, who with his lightning feigns, spin dribbles and drivings to the Serbian hoop complemented by an outstanding accuracy in his jumpers (6 from 6 in three pointers and 4 from 7 in 2 points shots) would reach 26 points, James Harden (3 from 5 in three pointers and 5 from six in two points shots) which would nail 23 points and a colossal DeMarcus Cousins, performing as a pure center, battling with all his might under both boards against the very strong Serbian centers Miroslav Raduljica (2,13 m tall and 114 kg) and Nenad Krstic (2,12 m, 121 kg and technically superior to DeMarcus Cousins), with huge intensity and laudable attitude that were exceedingly important for the U.S squad in key moments.


Milos Teodosic during one of his very fast penetrations to United States basket.

Basketball is the national sport in Serbia and this small country has produced a lot of world class players: Dragan Kikanovic, Zoran Slavnic, Predrag Danilovic, Dejan Bodiroga, Alexander Djordjevic, Predrag Stojakovic, Zarko Paspalj, Vlade Divac, Igor Rakocevic and many others.

The Serbian team tackles this final game with tons of illusion, since it wasn´t beforehand among the favourite squads for medals.

But the coach Sasha Djordjevic, a highly experienced man as a player (he was one of the best shooting guards in the history of European basketball) has created a highly competitive team in which together with the traditional stunning accuracy in the medium and long range shots and the natural gift for basketball that has always been sported by plavi players, a very good defense has been added.

Vast majority of Serbian millions of inhabitants are watching the match on TV and cheering up their national basketball team, while Serbian supporters make their presence felt in the stands of Madrid Sports Palace.

Though being a small country, basketball has always being a very important thing for its people, who feature deep knowledge on this sport and are great admirers of both American NBA and NCAA basketball and the legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, so facing USA is a historical event for them.

After a jumper by Kenneth Faried scoring two points, the starting minutes of the first quarter elapse with a bit of fluster in the United States attack. Anthony Davis - defended by Miroslav Raduljica- makes a jumper and the ball doesn´t even touch the hoop. Stefan Markovic captures the rebound, crosses the court and assists Bjelica which is about to be intercepted by Kenneth Faried (whom Mike Krzyzewski has asigned the defense on the great 2,09 m and 106 kg Serbian forward). The defensive intimidating presence of Faried makes Bjelica (located at approximately 2,5 m from the middle area of U.S 6,25 m line) pass the ball to Milos Teodosic - firstly placed on the right and being defended by James Harden-, doing immediately after it a screen to the plavi guard (who has stood back his position around 2 meters trying to receive the pass from Bjelica) who prevents James Hrden from being able to stop the starting penetration movement of the Serbian playmaker, who drives very fast towards the American hoop through its middle area and at 08:26 from the end of the first quarter, can be seen in the image how he goes up for a layup and scores two points avoiding the block shot by Anthony Davis.

Serbia has begun very tuned in, conducted by Milos Teodosic, who is masterfully directing his teammates, wisely distributing the play and doing some penetrations which surprise the American squad, while the plavi players are very accurate with their medium and long distance shots.

                                Stefan Markovic defended by Kyrie Irving.

At 08:04 from the end of the first quarter, Stefan Markovic (whom Sasha Djorfjevic has placed on the court making him play as a 1 in order that Milos Teodosic can play as a shooting guard wearing out as less as possible) surpasses the defense of Kyrie Irving and sends a one hand pass to Miroslav Raduljica, who is alone under the United States basket and scores two points through a slam dunk, after an intelligent reading of the play by Milos Teodosic, who embeds between Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis inside the American zone, managing to divert the U.S center attention from the defense on Raduljica.

Anthony Davis, the best center of United States from the viewpoint of his scoring ability, class and playing quality (excellent his performance in this Spain 2014 FIBA basketball World Cup, setting up with Kenneth Faried the usual couple of tallest men in the U.S lineup and being highly effective in attack and defense alike), makes two personal fouls in the first two minutes of the game and Mike Krzyzewski decides to replace him by DeMarcus Cousins, a man featuring great strength, rebounding talent and intimidating power, because until now Serbia is holding a sway over the fight under both backboards. Coach K asssigns him a double mission: to rebound to the death in both baskets and go out to block Teodosic´s shots.

Milos Teodosic. The great Serbian shooting guard, one of the best European players in his post, offered an exhibition of top basketball during the first quarter, with masterly control of the game timing, remarkable distribution of the play, creativity in attack and excellent medium and long range shooting. His attitude deserves high accolades, since he had to defend Kyrie Irving (the reference-class NBA guard in terms of penetration speed, changes of pace and brutal decelerations), an exceedingly difficult to defend one on one man and boasting a far superior physical ability than him, in spite of which the Serbian captain, fought to the end plucking up courage and using all of his stamina. Albeit his performance was decreasing from the second quarter because of the progressive tiredness and the physical superiority of the United States team (whose men are able to play the four quarters with the same intensity), Teodosic went on battling tooth and nail until the end of the game, keeping a fairly good attacking level and wisely conducting his teammates. Even being already apparently beat, he was able to do a great play at 04:26 from the end of the fourth quarter, when being simultaneously tightly defended by Stephen Curry near the United States 6,25 line and the U.S center Andre Drummond hindering a possible penetration through the right side, he sent an alley-hoop pass to Nikola Kalinic, who surpassed DeMar DeRozan´s defense and scored two points with a slam dunk in United States basket.

Slam dunk by Nemanja Bjelica over DeMarcus Cousins after being assisted by Milos Teodosic at 07:30 from the end of the first quarter.

At 07:30 from the end of the first quarter, Teodosic does another of his brainwaves: being located on the right of the U.S three point line, he receives a pass from Markovic and feigns to try to shoot a 3 pointer. Kyrie Irving goes quickly to defend Teodosic and jumps over him, while Raduljica strives after blocking DeMarcus Cousins, who comes to help Irving if Teodosic decides a jumper instead of penetrating or assiting another Serbian player. The Serbian captain is forced to go back, because DeMarcus cousins (one of whose assignments ordered by Coach K is to defend the Serbian pick and roll far from the American basket) runs towards him crossing the three point line and trying to keep him by the court corner attempting to generate a 2 against 1 trap together with Irving. Milos Teodosic manages to drive up to the free throws line of United States zone, where Steve Curry and Kyrie Irving go for him. James Harden only can watch the play, because he has to defend Nikola Kalinic (located on the left of the U.S 3 point line) and Stefan Markovic (also placed behind that line, around three meters on the right), since if either of them receives a pass from Teodosic, he will comfortably throw a three pointer.

But Teodosic´s great talent  under extreme situations enables him to see Bjelica (located approximately 1 meter in front of the left corner of the U.S 6,25 m line, free of defense, because the penetration of the Serbian player has put the United States defense a bit out of order and Kenneth Faried is defending Miroslav Raduljica under the hoop while DeMarcus Cousins comes back to his starting position of pure 5 under the backboard after going for Teodosic), whom he assists with a high pass corssing the U.S zone from left to right. Bjelica controls the ball and running parallel to the baseline rushes towards the United States basket, dribbling Kenneth Faried and doing a slam dunk over DeMarcus Cousins.

Serbia is dominating the score 8-5.

The individual technique and game vision of the Serbian team men is noteworthy and the constant location of Bjelica (a very big 2, 09 m shooting forward) in perimeter positions (above all front ones, after the 6,25 m line) is creating problems to the United States defense.

At 7:09 from the end of the first quarter, Nemanja Bjelica drives into basket easily scoring two points with a layup after a pick by his teammate Miroslav Raduljica, who struggles with DeMarcus Cousins and avoids the arrival in time of the American center to block the incursion of the Serbian forward. The play had begun after a defensive rebound captured by Raduljica under the Serbian basket and a fast break by Markovic who passed the ball to Bjelica, placed around one meter and a half behind the left area of the United States 6,25 m line. The need for James Harden of keeping an eye on Nikola Kalinic (located on far left and waiting to be asisted and throw a 3 pointer) makes that Bjelica finds a penetration gap of around three meters towards the Ameircan basket, under which Kyrie Irving is just in front of Raduljica, trying to intercept a possible passing trajectory either towards him or in the direction of DeMarcus Cousins who is on the left of the Serbian center, a bit behind him. And when Bjelica arrives at the position of DeMarcus Cousins, he takes advantage between the American center and Raduljica to keep on his sortie on Raduljica´s right and softly score throgh a layup, and Serbia acquires an davantage of five points over United States, with 10-5 in the score.

Two great basketball fans. Albeit very young, his knowledge on the baskt sport are already relevant. The one on the left is wearing the Los Angeles Lakers shirt with number 24 of Kobe Bryant (five times NBA Champion), while the one on the right is wearing the shirt of the former Yugoslavia with the number 5 of Dragan Kikanovic (FIBA World Champion in Manila 1978, Olympic Champion in Moscow 1980 and Europe Champion in Spain 1973, Yugoslavia 1975 and Belgium 1977). The NBA and Plavi spirit are coexisting in the stands of Madrid Sports Palace during this unforgettable final game.

Sasha Djordjevic has thoroughly prepared the match, with a great mobility of his players, with the centers often going out of the American center to foster the penetrations into basket by Teodosic and Bogdanovic, Bjelica (2,09) often located behind the 6,25 m line to oblige the tallest men of the U.S lineup to go to defend him in the perimeter area and dribbling them driving towards American basket or easily throw a three pointer if an under 2 meters American guard (1) or shooting guard (2) comes for him and the steady option of screens for Bogdanovic or Teodosic, whose accuracy and speed of medium and long distance shooting along with their ability driving to basket are frightening weapons.

At 06: 38 from the end of the first quarter, Milos Teodosic is assited by Raduljica near the left area of the United States zone, surpasses the defense by Kyrie Irving and jumps scoring two points with a reverse layup.

Serbia goes on up in the score with a difference of seven points: 12-5.


After five minutes of the first quarter, Serbia is ahead by eight points.  The United States coach Mike Krzyzewski realizes that Serbia is momentarily controlling the tempo of the match and the American team can´t find its pace. It´s necessary to specially stop Milos Teodosic (the great Serbian plamaker, who is being highly effective with both his penetrations and medium and long distance shots, and at the same time is making possible through his assists to his best situated teammates that the Serbian squad do very good jumpers selections), Bogdan Bogdanovic (the best elite Serbian sniper who is being a constant threat thanks to his amazing accuracy in long distance shots and his remarkable leaping ability enabling him to attack the hoop with great power, facing the rival guards, power guards  and forwards) and Nemanja Bjelica (a forward whose great height - 2.09 m-, stunning mobility for his size and versatility, getting the most of his excellent individual technique, make that Sasha Djorgevic uses him him as a 3, 4 and even 2 depending on the match circumstances, which is begetting some confusion in the United States defense.

But Mike Kryzewski, one of the best coaches in the whole history of this sport, is not only a genius but a highly experienced man accustomed to facing the most difficult contexts.

He knows that this is a key moment of the match, becuase Serbia is on a roll and scoring everything, so he orders his men to boost defense to the death, asking DeMarcus Cousins (2,11 m and 122 kg) to endeavor to his utmost in his mission of defending the attacking Serbian centers (Krstic and Raduljica) and simultaneously going out of the American zone trying to block the shots made by Teodosic, Bogdanovic and Bjelica, hampering their jumpers. At the same time, he orders Kyrie Irving to strike against the Serbian defense by means of his impresively swift accelerations and decelerations, feigns and reverse dribbles and begin shooting 3 pointers taking advantage of his awesome jumping ability. It has the aim of physically wearing out as much as feasible Teodosic, Bogdanovic and Markovic (who will have to go to defend him in the strating phase of their penetrations), open gaps in the plavi defense (because in the final stage of his drivings to basket, the Serbian centers will be bound to try to block him, because of the American playmaker great ability to do double pump layups) and reduce the distance in points with the Serbian team as soon as possible.

After surpassing the defense by the American shooting guard James Harden (1,96 m and 100 kg), the Serbian forward Nikola Kalinic (2.03 m) is forced to stop on seeing the approaching of the center DeMarcus Cousins (out of image, on the right of it).

DeMarcus Cousins changing his defensive position (firstly oriented towards Raduljica) to block Nikola Kalinic´s drive to the U.S basket. A permanent shift of position of this kind by a player featuring the huge height and weight of the American center requires a titanic level of effort which results in a lot of stages of the match being near the end of his tether. His sacrifice in favour of the team was one of the game key factors.

At 0:6:14 from the end of the first quarter comes the beginning of the match dynamics change ordered by Coach K, when Kyrie Irving makes an extraordinary play, starting a speedy attacking movement being located a few centimeters behind the Serbian 6,25 m line, defended by Milos Teodosic, whom he drives past with a running dribbling bouncing the ball with his right hand and passing it between his legs, to go on with a formidable penetration towards the plavi basket (surpassing the attempt of steal by Raduljica, who abandons his defense on DeMarcus Cousins for an instant).

and in a dazzling jump he avoids the block shot by Bjelica and Milos Teodosic, doing a double pump layup on the right of the backboard. The spectators stand up on their seats and applaud this masterpiece.

The contest goes on and from now on there will be no quarter. Each ball is arduously fought. United States defense starts being truly stifling, a real steamroller which greatly crimps the Serbian shots, as well as neutralizing very much each possible line of pass.

But Serbia doesn´t surrender and its players keep on giving their all on the court, pushing themselves.

At 05:40 from the end of the first quarter, Raduljica scores two points under the United States hoop after a great assist by Milos Teodosic, while De Marcus Cousins makes a personal foul. The Serbian center cashes in the free throw, so the score now indicates 15-7 for Serbia.

After driving to U.S basket, the stalwart defense by Kyrie Irving (who deters him from turning towards the left) and the very attentive watchfulness by DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden on Raduljica in the low post, compels him to make a jump shot at the last moment.

Aside from being a first-rate basketball match which will keep its beauty and intensity until the end, the fight is turning into a full-fledged attrition war, in which the superior athletic condition and resistance to fatigue of the United States team give them an advantage as the minutes go by.

James Harden easily drains a 3 point jumper in spite of the strenuous defensive effort of Nikola Kalinic, who tries to block the shot. The very strong American shooting guard (1,96 m and 102 kg) was a constant threat for the Serbian hoop throughout the whole match, being one of its best players (he would finish with 23 points) both in his outer shots and his rather difficult to defend drivings to basket in one on ones and which were also invaluable to progressively tire Teodosic, Markovic and Bogdanovic. He´s made a great FIBA World Cup, with a pretty productive versatility for his team, sometimes conducting the team and above all assisting his best located teammates, powerfully driving to the Serbian basket and churning out a lot of three pointers. Besides, his connection with the U.S centers was a very important factor.

By means of a pick and roll with DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving, at 04:29 from the end of the first quarter, has just dribbled Milos Teodosic (who stumbles and is about to fall on the floor on trying to avoid the blockade of the American center, placed on the right, out of image) and throws a 3 pointer out of the six of six that he would nail during the match. Coach K strategy is paying off. Within a few minutes will unleash a 15-0 run, with a suffocating collective defense which will greatly curb the Serbian attacks and a lethal ability to score three pointers in crunch time. It must be underscored the attitude of the Serbian players, who made man-to-man pressure defense facing a the United States basketball machine and before stronger and faster men featuring a far superior physical capacity.

In spite of the gale of rival play unfolding, the Serbian players fought to their utmost at every moment. Here we see Bogdan Bogdanovic (a 1,98 m and 93 kg shooting guard) driving to basket, defended by Klay Thompson (2,01 m and 92 kg shooting guard and forward). Both élite shooters guarded each other during a lot of stages of the game.

This way, the contest arrives at 04:10 from the end of the first quarter, when through two consecutive actions by Kyrie Irving, United States breaks up Serbia´s pace and definitely takes control of the match: the first one beginning with a terrific defensive play in which Bogdan Bogdanovic (located on the right of the American 6,25 m line) receives a pass from Stefan Markovic and is very tightly guarded by James Harden, dribbled by the Serbian shooting guard who drives to the U.S basket, moment in which DeMarcus Cousins goes out for him, which obliges Bogdanovic to assist Nenad Krsic, who throws an inaccurate right hook bacuase of the intimidating presence of DeMarcus Cousins, who captures the rebound in a very powerful way and sends the ball to Kyrie Irving, who strats the fast break bouncing the ball with his left hand until arriving at the right area of the Serbian 6,25 m line and makes a tremendous jumper surpassing Milos Teodosic´s defense and scoring three points.

A new three pointer by Kyrie Irving, defended by Milos Teodosic, who arrives late to try the block-shot. The great scoring ability of the U.S playmaker, both penetrating swiftly towards the Serbian basket and throwing medium and long distance shots, along with his stunning leaping athleticism, most times being impossible to guess what he´s going to do, brought about the virtual impossibility to be defended by the Serbian team.

and scores a spectacular 3 pointer; and the second one begins with a great drive to the U.S basket by Milos Teodosic, who surpasses Stephen Curry through speed with a masterly spin dribble and sends a long pass between Kenneth Faried and DeMarcus Cousins which arrives at Bjelica, who rushes to the American basket with great resolve. Irving strives after stealing the ball from him, but arrives a bit late and the Serbian forward jumps towards the U.S hoop, but at the last moment, DeMarcus Cousins intimidation makes him assist Krstic, who is very near and tries to score two points, but once again, the intense defense exerted by De Marcus Cousins, who leaps to block the shot, makes the Serbian player fail, and the American center, a real colossus under ther backboards, grabs the defensive rebound after several jumps and uphill fight, passing the ball to Kyrie Irving, who crosses the whole court and arrives again at the right area of the Serbian zone, once more attacking Milos Teodosic, whose defense is good, but Irving makes two brutal pace changes in full sprint along with a double pump layup impossible to stop and scores two points handling the ball with his two hands in an incredible way.

United States is increasingly turning the game around and acquires an advantage of seven points: 15-22.

The thousands of spectators in the stands of the Madrid Sports Palace burst into applause. A display of extraordinary collective basketball like this had never been seen in this arena and this last work of art by Kyrie Irving begets an unutterable thrill.

Legendary maestro Mike Krzyzewski´s team is a machine of doing basketball, with a really top-notch attack/defense balance, but they don´t relax at any moment and keep on defending to the death.

Great assist inside the U.S zone by the Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica (2,09 m and 106 kg) to the center Nenad Krstic (2,13 m and 109 kg).

The United States bench cheering his players during the last minutes of the first quarter.

The second quarter begins with Sasha Djordjevic putting Bjelica on Kyrie Irving, trying to defend the outside shooting of the United States point guard that have catapulted the American reaction during the second half of the first quarter. But it doesn´t work. It´s impossible to stop Irving, who in some specific stages is also unsuccessfully defended by Bogdan Bogdanovic (more often guarding Stephen Curry).

Kyrie Irving scoring his nth 3 pointer thanks to his remarkable ability to float on the rival players by means of  penetration fakings, brutal pace changes and a breathtaking leaping ability, easily overcoming the defense by Bogdan Bogdanovic. After the devastating reaction of United States team, led in attack by Kyrie Irving, the first quarter ended with a 35-21 score in favour of the American squad. The great Cleveland Cavaliers playmaker showed hugely accurate with his long distance shots.

At 05:58 from the second quarter, Anthony Davis makes his third personal foul when trying to stop a penetration on the left towards American basket by Milos Teodosic, which makes DeMarcus Cousins enter again on the court. United States defense goes on being tremendously strong, with utter involvement of every player, which greatly hampers the Serbian attacking flow.

Great defense by Mason Plumlee (2,08 and 111 kg American center) and Klay Thompson (2,01 and 92 kg shooting guard and forward) on Marko Simonovic (2,02 m and 88 kg Serbian forward).

A further three pointer made by Kyrie Irving, who literally smashed the Serbian team with his jumpers beyond the 6,25 m line and his lightning drives to basket. It can be seen that his jumper cacthes fully unaware his defender Stefan Jovic, who was waiting for incursion to the basket because of the previous penetration feign into the paint made by the American playmaker.

On the other hand, DeMarcus Cousins is steadily going out towards perimeter area to help Rudy Gay in his defense on Bjelica, which is little by little wearing out the big Serbian forward, who every time receives the ball, has to fight to his limit to be able to shoot or dribble. Nevertheless, Bjelica manages to perform some praiseworthy plays, among them an impressive three pointer at 03:24 from the end of the second quarter, made from behind the United States 3 point line, overcoming the defense by Rudy Gay and helped by a previous pick and roll done for him by his teammate Vladimir Stimac.

Notwithstanding, the staunch defense on Bjelica makes that Bogdan Bogdanovic has to mostly take the Serbian scoring labour in this phase of the game.

Serbia fought as much as he could against the United States squad, a juggernaut of defensive and offensive baskeball, trying to reduce distances by means of 3 pointers. Here we see Bogdan Bogdanovic - who has just received a pass from Stefan Markovic, with Derrick Rose next to him- nailing one after a good shooting selection of the Serbian team, which prevents DeMarcus Cousins arriving in time to block or touch the shot, on obliging him to watch the possible assist trajectory to Krstic (visible on the right) who advances towards the American basket. DeMarcus Cousins´s attitude and unselfish sacrifice for his team was extraordinary, and besides, at the end of this second quarter he made a sensational defensive play, stealing the ball from Bjelica in perimeter area with a vary fast movement of his right hand and forcing the personal fould of the Serbian forward on trying to recover the ball.

At 02:26 from the end of the second quarter, a highly energetic James Harden crosses all the court in a quick transition, dribbling Bjelica in its middle area and surpassing the defense by Kalinic and Teodosic on Serbian zone, scores two points with a layup, so United States previals now 59-35 in the score. The American team is clearly dominating the game and has found his playing pace, in such a way that this second quarter (which ends with a great 3 pointer by Kalinic while running culminating a counterattack after defensive rebound and a long pass sent to him by Markovic) finishes with an advantage of 29 points for United States: 67-38.

Derrick Rose starts the fast break of U.S lineup after a steal. Though the great Chicago Bulls guard sketched out some highlights of his class, frenetic changes of pace, showy play and athleticism in his actions, he couldn´t shine at the customary level, since he´s still recovering from a serious injury that made him stay almost a year out of NBA courts.

After the halftime, the first basket of the third quarter is made by Bjelica, who after grabbing a defensive rebound passes the ball to Markovic, who starts the transition and sends the ball to Teodosic, placed on the right (behind the free throw line), and he passes it to Bjelica, located once again behind the United States 6,25 m line front area. The Serbian forward fakes the 3 pointer and dribbles DeMarcus Cousins (who had gone out of his zone to defend Bjelica, trying to block his possible outside shot), also overcoming the complementary defense by Stephen Curry (who attempts to steal him the ball during his first bounce) and scores two points doing a slam dunk with his two hands on the American hoop.

But in spite of its great advantage in the score, United States doesn´t let their guard down. Coach K has imparted very clear instructions to his players inside the locker during the halftime. They must carry on defending to the utmost and avoid any kind of easy shots of the Serbian team, whether two points ones or 3 pointers. Mike Krzyzewski´s vast experience and significant respect for the rival team makes that the American team doesn´t relax at all, because he perfectly knows the huge accuracy in long distance shots featured by the Serbian players, along with their top-drawer individual technique.

However, a few seconds later, Kyrie Irving crosses the court at full speed, surprsing the Serbian defense and scoring two points through a layup. United States is proving to be unstoppable.

In spite of the extraordinary defense of the American team (which constantly intercepted the Serbian passing lines) and the hands quickness of his players, Bogdan Bogdanovic often found the way to score. Here we can see him resolutely go up for a layup and scoring two points thanks to his great leaping ability and speed, beating Klay Thompson´s defense. The powerful gastronecmio, soleum and tibialis anterior muscles of his legs can be seen in the image.

At 07:49 from the end of the third quarter, James Harden throw a three pointer from the right corner next to the Serbian 6,25 m line. The ball touches the hoop and DeMarcus DeCousins slams it dunk with one hand, scoring two points. The Sacramento Kings center is revealing himself as Mike Krzyzewsky in this final games.

At 07:12 from the end of the third quarter, Raduljica sends a pass to Bjelica, who located once more behimd the front area of the U.S 6,25 line area, cocks his arm at great speed and nails a 3 pointer from seven meters overcoming Kenneth Faried´s defense. The class and elegance of the Serbian big forward are one of the attractions of this final match.

At 06:25 from the end of the third quarter. Coach K gives rest to DeMarcus Cousins, making Anthony Davis enter again.

Milos Teodosic hits a three point shot after a good shooting selection by the Serbian team, who makes Derrick Rose arrive late for the defense. The great Serbian playmaker was very willful throughout the whole night, fighting to his utmost to keep the best feasible attacking level and simultaneaoulsy trying to curb - which he couldn´t - the onslaughts by Kyrie Irving. His performance during the first five minutes of the first quarter, masterly distributing the play, penetrating with layups breaking the American defense and shooting from mid and long range when circumstances required it, can only be defined as splendid. He was apparently tired during the last quarter of the game, but he was able to endure on the court with great courage, fighting until the end of the contest.

At 08:24 from the ened of the third quarter, James Harden receives a pass from DeMarcus DeCousins (who has just made him a pick and roll) slightly behind the right area of the Serbian 6,25 m line, surpasses Kalinic´s defense and rushes to rival basket, overcoming Raduljica´s defense with his jump and subsequently making a formidable stretching of his left arm, scoring two points with a layup.

Kenneth Faried in the middle of an ascending flight just before a spectacular two hands slam dunk finishing a lightning fast break.

The same play at the moment of maximum height reached by Kenneth Faried,

who strongly smashes the Serbian hoop.

Sasha Djordjevic imparting instructions to his players. The Serbian coach lived the game with enormous intensity.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, the best shooter of the Serbian team, featrung an exceedingly fast mechanics when throwing tlong range shots and one of the foremost shooting guards of the European basketball. Together with Milos Teodosic, he was the player who carried the team on his back during the decisive stages of the game and in the same way as happened with the Serbian captain Milos Teodosic, he couldn´t perform at his best due to the stifling defense made by the American squad from the minute 5 of the first quarter until the end of the match, as well as being bound to defend Klay Thompson and sometimes Kyrie Irving, which resulted in his progressive physical wearing out and a certain efficiency lessening in attack from the third quarter.

Impressive three pointer nailed by Klay Thompson. It can be sen the tremendous jump and the easiness with which he scores three points overcoming Nemanja Bjelica´s defense after a penetration feign.

Mike Krzyzewski, paying top attention to every detail of the game and giving instructions in loud voice to his players. Coach K (an extraordinary coach who has won two Olympic Games - Beijing 2008 and London 2012- , two FIBA Basketball World Cups - Turkey 2010 and Spain 2014- and nothing less than four NCAA United States Championships with Duke University) didn´t relax an instant during the whole match, keeeping a big respect for the Serbian lineup, whom he could defeat with a difference of 37 points thanks to his great experience and a very wide assortment of resources enabling him to adapt to the most various game contexts that can arise and the laudable attitude of his men, sporting a remarkable collective sense of play on every single action, without ever feeling to be the winners in advance and making steady strenuous efforts in defense, from which being able to build both their fast breaks and static attacks. Needless to say that the psichological labor of this legendary coach with players like DeMarcus Cousins to draw their full potential paid off, basides giving minutes in this final game to players often not being in the starting lineup as mason Plumlee, whose fight tooth and nail for each ball was very useful for the team.

A new 3 pointer shot hit by Kyrie Irving, avoiding Nemanja Bjelica´s block-shot thanks to his amazing leaping talent.

Nemanja Bjelica playing as a pure 3 and nailing a three pointer. It can be observed how the American center DeMarcus Cousins goes out to try to block the shot, while the United States forward Rudy Gay (2,03 m and 101 kg). Seeing the synchronization of defensive adjustments planned by Coach K was a real treat for every basketball lover.

Stephen Curry hits a 3 pointer after a good shooting selection by the American team, while Stefan Markovic arives late to defend. The extraordinary guard of Golden State Warriors, currently arguably the best shooter in NBA made a great championship, but he couldn´t shine at his usual level in this final game because of the close defense made on him by the Serbian defense and the special circumstances of the match who made that Mike Krzyzewski entrusted him with defensive missions. The great attitude of this player (one of the NBA men boasting more class and better individual technique) must be underscored, since he often wore out guarding rival players (above all Milos Teodosic, a far from easy task) and gave top priority to the collective efficiency, following Coach K´s instructions to a tee.

Tremendous block-shot by Kyrie Irving (1,91 m and 86 kg) on the Serbian center Miroslav Raduljica (2,13 m and 114 kg). The stunning athleticism of the United States squad delighted both the attending and TV audience, with frequent unique plays like this in which a playmaker blocks the attempt of hook shot of a huge rival center, helping in defense to DeMarcus Cousins, who is also jumping and about to block the shot of the Serbian player. Actions like these reveal the resolve and collective commitment in defense to the death of the American lineup and the preponderance of team concept infused by the Maestro Coach K over the personal showing off, which brings about that every player feels main actor and able to be decisive, which raises their motivation, self-confidence, performance on the court and sincere comradeship and friendship among them.

Another instance of the great U.S defense. When Milos Teodosic tries to drive toward the American basket, Stephen Curry goes for him (sticking to him and attempting to steal the ball with a fast movement of his hands) and DeMarcus Decousins rectifies his initially front position with respect to the Serbian center Miroslav Raduljica (whom he must defend at every moment), slightly shifting his position towards the great Serbian playmaker just in case manages to dribble Stephen Curry and tries to hit a jumper or make a layup, in order to block his shot. At the same time, the American center is paying top attention to intercept a possible crossed pass sent by Milos Teodosic to Raduljica, a situation in which DeMacus Cousins would have the defensive help of Kyrie Irving, who is very near the United States basket and would jump along with DeMarcus Cousins trying to block a possible penetration of the Serbian center. On his turn, James Harden (visible in the background of the image on the left) is attentively looking at Milos Teodosic and is in the lookout for both intercepting a possible pass trajectory to the Serbian player located on the left (out of image) next to the 6,25 m line and trying to steal the ball from milos Teodosic if he dribbles Stephen Curry and keeps on his drive to the position of DeMarcus Cousins.

The very strong Serbian guard Stefan Markovic (1,92 m and 102 kg) nails a 3 pointer about to be blocked by Kyrie Irving, whose great multirole talent and extraordinary athletic capacity enabled him to do a historical match in attack and defense alike, which would make him be named MVP of the final game.

A very powerful defensive rebound grabbed by DeMarcus Cousins before the tip shot attempt by the Serbian forward Nikola Kalinic (2.03 m and 101 kg).

Another example of the huge difficulty to defend the attacks of United States team. Kyrie Irving goes 1-on-1 with Stefan Markovic, who has just shifted his position towards the right trying to avoid the penetration of the American guard, while Bogdan Bogdanovic (defending James Harden) is alert for that potential incursion by Irving to try to steal the ball from him with a quick movement of his left hand if a new bounce of it happens. But it is really a drive to basket feign,

followed by a brutal deceleration utterly breaking the defensive balance of the 1,92 m and 102 kg Serbian guard and shooting guard, who desperately strives after shifting his position towards the left, but he can´t manage to do it and kyrie Irving scores two points with a comfortable jumper.

Serbia is already more than 30 points down in the score, but they go on giving it all on the court of the Madrid Sports Palce in this unforgettable final game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Spain 1014. Once again, Bogdan Bogdanovic hits a stratopsheric three pointer, which is abot to be blocked by Anthony Davis, while Klay Thompson had already gone for the defensive help to try to steal the ball from the Serbian shooting guard if he attempted to dribble the American center.


United States coach Mike Krzyzewski confirmed once more his mastery when it came to rotating his men, with a fairly wise selection of the tempo in the changes, giving rest to the players needing it it and introducing other ones (DeMar DeRozan, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dummond and Rudy Gay) who usually aren´t within the starting lineup but whose performance is optimized to the utmost by Coach K, who likewise makes them feel valued, an integral part of the team and highly appreciated.

It greatly allows to keep an identical level of defensive stamina and collective spirit play which gives rise to a steadfastness in the attacking flow, without dropping the level.

The shooting guard and forward of the American team DeMar DeRozan (2,01 and 100 kg) driving at full speed to Serbian basket, just at the moment in which he begins going 1-on-1 with Nemanja Bjelica (approximately one meter on the right, out of image) at 02:35 from the end of the third quarter, with a very swift penetration which finishes with a layup of the United States player and personal foul of the Serbian forward. A usual excellent shooter in the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, the great quality of the frequent starting U.S lineup (Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis) made that he couldn´t participate many minutes, but he made good use of the brief periods in which he played, particularly in this final game, where he proved his remarkable class, speed and shooting accuracy, nailing a great lateral 3 point shot at 06:35 from the end of the last quarter, after a pass sent to him by Klay Thompson -who dribbles Stefan Birkovic inside the Serbian zone- with Bodan Bogdanovic on him, as well as defending with high intensity.

Brutal 3 pointer hit by Bogdan Bogdanovic over excellent defense by Klay Thompson, who is about to block the shot. Just watch the facial rictus of strenuous effort visible in the countenance of the Golden State Warriors shooting guard. Once and again, the power of Bogdan Bogdanovic´s lower body proved to be astonishing along with his extremely quick shooting, and at every moment he plucked up courage going 1-on-1 against the American defense, whose men were physically superior to him. 

Kenneth Faried (2,03 m and 103 kg) flies out when trying to do a slam dunk forcing to the limit before Vladimir Stimac (placed behind him), Stefan Bircevic (on the left of the image) and Stefan Jovic (on the right of the image), while Bogdan Bogdanovic and Klay Thompson (visible in the background) watch the play. The power forward of Denver Nuggets (2,03 m and 102 kg) has been one of the most distinguished players of this FIBA World Cup. A man featuring immense athletic capacity, brutal leaping ability and great tiredness resistance, he has become a starter in the United States lineup, providing points, defensive and offensive rebounds to spare and intimidation on the guarding labours on the best rival players. His unselfishness to help teammates and his mentality as a squad man have been exceedingly valuable for the American team and has often brought about the thrill in the stands with his spectacular slam dunks.

Nikola Kalinic scores two points with a slam dunk. DeMar DeRozan, who makes a big defensive effort, is about to block the shot of the Serbian forward.

Klay Thompson trying to drive to the Serbian basket overcoming the defense by Stefan Birkevic. The Golden State Warriors shooting guard and forward had a very good performance in this final game, both defensively and in attack, showing his great class and elegance in the play and giving some important assists. During some stages of the match Sasha Djordjevic placed successfully the very tall Serbian power forward (2,10 m and 98 kg) guarding Klay Thompson to hinder as much as possible the 3 pointers of the élite American shooter, but to practical effects, the outstanding quality and versatility of the United States team and Coach K´s great experience and ineffable ability to adapt to different contingencies of game made that other players scored after good shooting selections and steady fast breaks after steals. Not in vain, Chris Sheridan, an American journalist specialized on basketball and featuring a 25 year experience covering the United States team all over the world, has stated that ´ in this Coach K´s squad you never know who is going to kill you, but there´s always one player who kills you ´.

After grabbing a defensive rebound following a 3 pointer shot failed by Derrick Rose, Bogdan Bogdanovic crosses the court and arrives at the surroundings of the slightly on the right front area of the United States 6,25 line. Mason Plumlee goes out up to there to defend his possible 3 pointer shot and is dribbled by the Serbian shooting guard, who fearlessly rushes to the American basket. It can be seen how the American center Andre Drummond (2,13 m and 127 kg) is in full jump for the block-shot, but the Serbian shooting guard, featuring a great individual technique, has realized it and stretches his left hand to get the ball as much as possible away from Drummond´s left hand.

However, Bogdan Bogdanovic waits a bit for the starting stage of his fall after the leap and at the last moment, stretches his left arm even more and is about to do a layup, but the xecellent defense by Andre Drummond (who has just enough slightly touched the ball with his left arm to divert its trajectory) avoids the two points at 03:09 from the end of the last quarter.

Great defense by Mason Plumlee (2,08 and 111 kg) who is about to block the hook shot by Vladimir Stimac (2,11 and 116 kg) who has being assisted by Bjelica and finally scores two points for Serbia with great difficulty, at 03:08 from the end of the fourth quarter. The Brooklyn Nets center had an excellent performance during the minutes he was on the court, developing his typical play based on the exhausting struggle for each ball, rebounding with resolve and battling tooth and nail with the Serbian centers Krsic, Raduljica and Stimac, besides efficiently synergize sometimes with the American guards making them pick and rolls. It must be also highlighted here Coach K´s commendable psychological labour, who draw the full potential off this future prospective top player, who if improves the accuracy in his shots up to 5 meters and his free shots can turn into a man enjoying many more minutes, since his courage and attitude are huge. He has already been able to do a block-shot on LeBron James in an NBA game.

The greatness of a defeat. Sasha Djordjevic changes Stefan Markovic (worn-out because of the defensive effort on Kyrie Irving) and is replaced by Stefan Jovic. The game is lost for Serbia. Markovic has given it all on the court, striving his utmost, is on the brink of crying. Sasha Djordjevic hugs him and encourages him, shaking his hand. The Serbian coach, visibly touched, is suffering very much. Rasko Katic (on the left of the image) applauds.  

The embrace protracts.The great Sasha Djordjevic (FIBA World Champion in Greece 1998 and European Champion in Italy 1991, Greece 1995 and Spain 1997) keeps on cheering Stefan Markovic as much as he can.

and finally passes his hand on his neck affectionately when the Serbian guard and shooting guard begins going to his plae in the bench.

At 02:06 from the end of the game, Andre Drummond is assisted by DeMar de Rozan

and scores two points with a powerful slam dunk before which the Serbian defense can´t do anything.

Everything is already decided and twelve seconds before, Sasha Djordjevic has changed Bogdan Bogdanovic, after two points scored in alley-hoop by Nikola Kalinic assisted by Stefan Jovic.

But Serbia, with the match already lost, goes on fighting and doing its best to score. The Serbian center Rasko Katic (2,08 and 114 kg) has just received a pass from Nikola Kalinic with whom he has synergized four seconds before making him a pick and roll in front of DeMar DeRozan, a scren from which Kalinic goes out dribbling while Rasko Katic moves towards just opposite the left lateral area of the United States 6,25 m line. Kalinic tries to drive to basket, but Mason Plumlee goes for him, so he decides to assist Rasko Katic, who scores two points with a jumper.

The game ends with a final score 122-92 for United States, which wins through a very wide margin of 37 points of difference.

The United States team players hug one another being elated after proclaiming winners of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Spain 2014, with an extraordinary basketball in which great emphasis has been placed on collective play, with six men scoring an average of more than ten points per game during the two weeks of competition: Stephen Curry (10,7), Kyrie Irving (12,1), Anthony Davis (12,3), Kenneth Faried (12,4), Klay Thompson (12,7) and James Harden (14,2).

Under the direction of Mike Krzyzewski the United States team becomes the first one in the History of Basketball to win in four consecutive world-class tournaments (Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Turkey 2010 FIBA World Cup, London 2012 Olympic Games and FIBA World Cup Spain 2014). But the greatness and humanity of this already legendary coach, one of the most important ones in the history of the American basketball and who was a pupil of Bobby Knight, is boundless, and he quickly goes to comfort and sincerely congratulate Milos Teodosic and Bogdan Bogdanovic, perfectly knowing that they are two extraordinary players who have fought on the court to their utmost.

The Spanish King Phillip VI gives James Harden, captain of the United States team, the James naismith Trophy as FIBA Basketball World Cup Spain 2014 winners. The U.S squad, featuring a 24 year old average, wins this way its fifth consecutive FIBA basketball world cup, with an average of 33 points of difference over its rivals during the tournament.

© Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza