The only former player from the Texas Longhorns basketball program to be selected for Team USA was Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner. He is also the only player from the Pacers to play for the United States in the FIBA World Cup. With other prominent former Longhorns in the NBA like Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and P.J. Tucker all holding out or injured, Turner was left to carry the torch among the alumni.
Turner and Team USA started their FIBA World Cup run in pool play against Chicago Bulls recently signed guard Tomas Satoransky and the Czech Republic on Sep. 1. Team USA responded from a poor run of play in friendlies prior to the start of the World Cup with an 88-67 win over the Czech. In that game, Turner registered 4 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks.
Next up for Turner and Team USA is a Sep. 3 meeting with Turkey. In their FIBA World Cup opener for pool play, Turkey knocked off Japan by the final score of 86-67. The two openers for Group E in the World Cup were pretty similar in nature. There was only a two point difference in the margins of victory for Turkey and the United States.
However, Turner will be a key cog for the United States down low on defense. He was a candidate to win Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA last season and will bring that strong presence on that end of the floor to Team USA the rest of the way in China.
Tip-off for the United States and Turkey will come at 7:30 a.m. CT on Tuesday. Turkey should be a more difficult opponent for the United States than the Czech Republic. The highlighting players for the Turkish side includes forward Ersan Ilyasova, wing Cedi Osman, forward Furkan Korkmaz, and center Semih Erden. Turkey has four current or former recognizable players in the NBA, which is more than the one that the Czech Republic boasted.
US head coach Gregg Popovich might be counting on Turner to get more minutes on the floor in game two than he did against the Czech. Turner got slightly over 16 minutes of playing time in the FIBA World Cup opener. But the Turkish big men present a bigger challenge than the Czech did. Turner will play a big role for Team USA in game two on Sep. 3.
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