SAPPORO (FIBA World Championship) - Team USA passed their first real test with flying colors when they beat Slovenia on Tuesday to maintain their unbeaten run at the FIBA World Championship.
The Americans only led 30-27 at the end of the first quarter but began to pull away in the second with captains LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony providing most of the inspiration and points in their 114-95 victory
They held a 66-49 advantage at half-time and put the result beyond doubt by stretching their lead to 82-53 six minutes into the third quarter.
Slovenia managed to reduce the deficit to 105-94 with three minutes remaining but they never threatened the Americans.
For a second succesive game, Wade was his team's top scorer, pouring in 20 points while James added 19.
The Americans led from the eighth minute thanks to a Wade lay-up and never looked back.
Slovenia, who were looking to bounce back from their surprising defeat on Sunday to Italy, got off to a good start but it didn't take the Americans long to take command with Wade's lay-up eight minutes into the contest giving the American team the lead for good.
Ales Pipan's side trailed by just two points (32-30) after 11 minutes played before the Americans quickened the tempo and upped the defensive pressure to pull away.
"This was a game that we were really looking forward to," said Wade, with many of Slovenia's players members of NBA teams.
"We wanted to test how good we are as a team and we did a good job.
"We could have beaten this team by 30 or 40 points but we let them get back in the game but that's their will not to quit."
The Slovenians out-rebounded the Americans 40-29, but the key statistic was turnovers - 24 for Pipan and Co to just 12 for Team USA.
Sani Becirovic had a team-high 18 points while Bostjan Nachbar and Primoz Brezec had 15 apiece in defeat.
Rasho Nesterovic, who this summer joined the Toronto Raptors, finished with 14 points and he tried to play down the result.
"This wasn't an important game for us," said Slovenian captain Rasho Nesterovic, who finished with 14 points.
"It was good to play against them and to feel what is like to play against such a good team.
"For us, the vital game is tomorrow against Puerto Rico."
The Americans on Wednesday take on undefeated Italy, who beat Senegal earlier in the day.
By Cindy Garcia-Bennett