By Tim Hanlon
BARCELONA (Reuters) - The United States breezed into the basketball World Cup final after a commanding performance by the holders who beat Lithuania 96-68 in a one-sided contest on Thursday.
The Americans, who took a second-string team to the tournament in Spain, will head confidently into Sunday’s showdown against either European champions France or upstarts Serbia who clash in the other semi-final on Friday.
The Lithuanians were able to hold their own only in the opening five minutes, when some erratic shooting from the champions allowed the Baltic nation to take a 13-10 lead.
But they had no reply for U.S. domination under the boards as the tournament favorites scored an avalanche of second-chance points from offensive rebounds.
With a 43-35 halftime lead, the U.S. team shored up their defensive leaks after the interval and built a 76-49 advantage in the third quarter, when captain James Harden scored all of his 16 points.
Guard Klay Thompson added as many while playmaker Kyrie Irving led the charge with 18 points and four assists.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Alan Baldwin)