Team USA was not in action for the first time, but the favorites continued rolling despite the favorites' absence on Monday at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Spain faced its toughest competition thus far as the host nation but had no trouble slipping past Brazil to move to a perfect 3-0. Greece also joined Spain among the ranks of the unbeaten with an 11-point win over Puerto Rico, and Argentina posted a close win over the Philippines.
The action on Day 3 has only set the stage for more exciting play throughout the rest of the tournament, as nations try to punch their tickets out of the group stage and into the next round. Here's a look at Monday's results and a look forward to Day 4.
|B||Senegal 77, Croatia 75|
|A||Serbia 83, Iran 70|
|B||Argentina 85, Philippines 81|
|A||France 94, Egypt 55|
|B||Greece 90, Puerto Rico 79|
|A||Spain 82, Brazil 63|
|Angola vs. Mexico||7:30 a.m.||Angola|
|Ukraine vs. Turkey||9 a.m.||Turkey|
|New Zealand vs. United States||11:30 a.m.||United States|
|Australia vs. Lithuania||11:30 a.m.||Lithuania|
|South Korea vs. Slovenia||2 p.m.||Slovenia|
|Finland vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||Dominican Republic|
FIBA.com/Steven Cook's predictions
Day 4 Top Games
New Zealand vs. United States
It's been a series of ups and downs for Team USA so far in Spain, but mostly ups. And head coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad will look to continue its ascension against New Zealand on Tuesday.
The Americans started off at FIBA in style, demolishing Finland 114-55 and holding their opponent without a field goal for the second quarter. They trailed at the half against Turkey on Sunday before pulling out a 21-point victory late.
New Zealand comes into the game sporting an 0-2 record but nearly made waves in its opener by falling late to Turkey—a team the U.S. trailed by five at the half. New Zealand was in position to win before Turkey mounted a fourth-quarter rally to take the victory.
Things haven't been pretty at times for Coach K and crew, but as ESPN's Fran Fraschilla notes, their superior talent is just too much for non-elite nations to overcome:
Essentially, Team USA has 7 games to smooth out offense before semis & finals. Coach K keeps it simple so 1-on-1 fine but extra pass better.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 28, 2014
New Zealand's Corey Webster will have a big game off the bench as Team USA continues to struggle against strong guard play, but athleticism and size will propel the Americans to an easy win.
Prediction: USA 95, New Zealand 62
Ukraine vs. Turkey
Nobody is going to sleep on Turkey in Group C after the nation's performance against the United States on Sunday. The big underdogs led by five at halftime against the reigning champions.
But the Turks are still coming off a loss to the Americans and will look to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday against Ukraine.
Which team looks the best so far in Spain?
Ukraine started strong in its opener with a 72-62 victory over the Dominican Republic, with guards Pooh Jeter and Sergii Gladyr leading the way offensively. Jeter added a big 24-point performance against Finland the day after, but 16 team turnovers forced Ukraine to sputter to a loss against Finland.
Turkey's slashing guards and physical post contributors caused more than a scare for the U.S. early, which leaves one to believe Ukraine will be no match. With a day off between games, Turkey's superior talent will be rested and ready to go.
Prediction: Turkey 91, Ukraine 78
South Korea vs. Slovenia
With Spain, Team USA, Argentina, Brazil and Greece all in other groups, first place was up for the taking in Group D. After two games, Slovenia looks eager to fill the up-for-grabs spot.
With easy wins over Australia and Mexico to start out play, Slovenia has made a case for a deep run in Spain this summer. Led by the Dragic brothers—Zoran and Goran, the latter of whom has emerged as a star for the NBA's Phoenix Suns—they have been ripping through opponents.
Zach Harper of CBS Sports noted their ridiculous stat line against Mexico:
The Dragic brothers combined for 40 points on 14/16 shooting, eight assists, and four steals.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 31, 2014
Zoran Dragic had 22 points on 8/8 shooting. Is that good?— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 31, 2014
In their opening two games, the Slovenians have shot 20-of-42 from three-point range and well over 50 percent from the field. Meanwhile, South Korea scored six points in its first quarter of play in Spain and was defeated by 34 points by an Australia team that Slovenia topped by double digits.
Chalk up another rout for Slovenia.
Prediction: Slovenia 95, South Korea 60
FIBA.com (updated after Sept. 1)