Kevin Durant drained 28 points as the USA captured the FIBA World Championship for the first time since 1994, defeating Turkey 81-64 in Istanbul.

And there was no disputing that the Americans, unheralded and unappreciated, deserved their triumph, going unbeaten from start to finish here despite the absence of their greatest names. Reputations, not just Durant’s, have been enhanced. Others have made their presence felt en route to claiming the Naismith Trophy amid a shower of tickertape.

“It just shows the depth that the NBA has,” said Andre Iguodala. “We have a lot of great players, players who people might have never heard of. This has given us the stage to show that we have great players throughout the league, not just the Kobes, LeBrons, Carmelos, Dwight Howards.

“They’re great players but Kevin Durant has put himself in the top echelon. I was able to play great defence. Chauncey (Billups) proved how good he was. We were the B team. We beat everybody.”

As expected, the Turkish faithful turned their capital’s arena into a cauldron of noise from the moment the teams stepped onto the court, each cheer for the hosts louder than the last, each threat from the USA accompanied by whistles and jeers.

Kevin Durant towered above Turkey (FIBA)

The Olympic champions did not seem intimidated, Derrick Rose’s opening score momentarily interrupting the din. Durant tried to muzzle it, hitting his first three of the night to become his country’s all-time leading scorer in the world championships as the US moved 7-3 in front.

Hedo Turkoglu is already an established hero and he hit consecutive treys to put his team in front for the first time with 4.03 left in the first, Omer Asik completing a 8-0 run that left Turkey 17-14 ahead. Durant sparked a response, converting a wide-open three, blocking Omer Onan on the glass and passing the baton to his team-mates to push the USA 22-17 clear at the end of the first.

It was intense. It was physical. Turkoglu had already threatened a scuffle when he shoved Tyson Chandler in the chest and the bumps and bruises continued. Durant could not be pushed out of his zone. He hit 9 USA points consecutively as the gap hit double-figures. At half-time, with the score 42-32, he had made 5/9 from long-range. His team-mates? 1/13. With 20 points to his name, he was a level above.

Notably, the American defence was tighter than it had been, pursuing every defensive rebound and not allowing Turkoglu to penetrate. Still, it was their star from the Oklahoma City Thunder who was striking over and over. He buried successive threes to start the third, with Lamar Odom’s lay-in widening the gulf to a daunting 18.

Turkey was in desperate trouble and in danger of fading into the distance. A 6-0 run had their fans rising once more and at 52-41 midway through the period, it was a timely burst.

But not enough. Rudy Gay and the impressive Russell Westbrook hit threes to ignite an 8-2 run that really seemed to deflate the hosts. Resistance, it seemed, was futile.

Iguodala's defence on Turkoglu was a major factor (FIBA)

61-48 behind with ten minutes to play, Bogdan Tanjevic’s men required a miraculous resurgence but there was none forthcoming.

“It just didn’t happen to be honest,” said Sinan Guler. “You know we can find excuses, Tiredness you know because after yesterday’s game, we were too excited and we had too much adrenaline flowing to get to sleep. And it’s just a great honour to be here and be a part of this.”

Rose and Odom accelerated the Americans 22 points clear with 6 minutes remaining and there was no going back.

Yet the Turks cheered to the very end, Turkoglu – who hit a team-best 16 points – receiving an ovation when he left the floor with 1.11 left and his team down 81-64. They will not forget this tournament here. And silver still glitters even it is the USA who return home with gold.

“This is huge for us,” said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. “We said if we could put together a team with such a big turnover of players (from 2008) and win, it would be a great story.”

It certainly is.

“Everybody, coaches, guys behind the scenes and everyone pushed us to make sure that we played as one group,” proclaimed Durant.

“Words can’t describe my feelings now. Sixteen years without winning this tournament. I have been four years in this programme and I feel like a veteran now. There is only one American NBA player that has won this tournament in the NBA (Shaquille O’Neal) so that’s pretty special.”

3rd place play-off: Lithuania 99-88 Serbia

Linas Kleiza hit 33 points as Lithuania took third place in the tournament with a comfortable 99-88 victory over Serbia.

An early 9-0 run put the Serbs up 18-9 but then it was all one-way. The Lithuanians used a 7-0 burst to go 23-22 in front at the end of the first and they pulled away into a 48-38 half-time cushion. From there, the gap kept growing to as much as 22. And a late rally from Serbia – led by 18 from Novica Velickovic –  could not silence the drums of the Baltic faithful who saluted their side as they took a deserved bow. “We’re such a small country and we didn’t even expect to be here,” said Kleiza. “This is huge.”

5th place play-off: Spain 81-86 Argentina

Argentina fought off a late fight back from Spain to claim fifth place, beating the defending champions 86-81.

The Argentines led 49-32 at half-time and increased their cushion to as much as 25 in the third. But an 18-0 run, sparked by Spanish reserve forward Fernando San Emeterio, ignited the contest again. With 2.11 left, Marc Gasol levelled at 80-80 from the foul line but the Grizzlies centre missed a critical free throw in the final minute which would tie the scores once more. And Pablo Prignioni hit a crucial three-pointer with 13 seconds left which effectively sealed victory.

Carlos Delfino hit 27 for the victors while Luis Scola added 22 to all but wrap up the scoring title. Rudy Fernandez hit a game-high 31 points for the 2014 hosts, shooting 11/13.

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