Istanbul, Turkey In the political arena, Iran vs. the United States is a matchup that gets attention.
In a basketball arena, not so much.
“For me, it’s a normal game,” Iran captain Mahdi Kamrany said.
The United States won it easily, earning a top seed in the knockout round of the world championship with an 88-51 victory Wednesday in the first meeting between the countries with a history of contentious relations.
The U.S. team, which downplayed the political aspect of the game, methodically pulled away in the first half, wearing down the Asian champions with its depth and athleticism.
“We just respected their basketball team and we just played a basketball game,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “There’s no political aspect in my mind in the ballgame.”
Kevin Love scored 13 points and Kevin Durant 12 for the Americans (4-0), who will meet the fourth-place team from Group A in the round of 16.
After playing his starters for most of the second half of a 70-68 victory over Brazil on Monday, Krzyzewski went to the bench early in this one, with the Americans shooting 58 percent and scoring 23 points off turnovers in the easy victory.
“I’m very happy, I played against the best team in the world,” Kamrany said.