Teams from around the world have tipped of at the 14th World Basketball Championships in the mid-western U.S. state of Indiana. In Indianapolis the 16 teams began to test their skills against each other.
The tournament has opened with the preliminary round, which will eliminate four teams from contention. Most of the early results Thursday went as expected, although New Zealand showed it may be a stronger team than predicted. New Zealand trailed a tough Russian team, but came back to win, 90-81.
Defending champion Yugoslavia had no trouble winning its opener against Angola, 113-63. The host United States also cruised to a 110-60 victory over Algeria. Paul Pierce led the U.S. attack with 22 points and says players from rival NBA teams are beginning to feel comfortable on the same squad.
"I think this was a good start for us. This is a different atmosphere. We have been used to playing against each other for the last couple of weeks. Everybody had a chance to get in there and get their feet wet. We still have a little way to go. We just look forward to getting better," he said.
Perhaps the most exciting contest of the day was between Puerto Rico and Turkey. Both teams battled to the closing seconds with Puerto Rico sinking the final basket to win, 78-75.
In other action, European power, Spain, beat a depleted and injured Canadian team, 85-54. Germany showed its strength against China, 88-76. Brazil was a 102-73 winner over Lebanon. Venezuela and Argentina battled in the only matchup between teams from the same region, with Argentina easily winning, 107-72.