LONDON (AP) — The U.S. women's Olympic team has an edge over its male counterparts when it comes to international basketball: The style of play is second nature to them.
That means the women don't have to make major adjustments.
"The European game is different, we all know that," said U.S. guard Diana Taurasi, who has played in both Turkey and Russia. "The best thing about it is that we've all played probably more European basketball than WNBA basketball. So we're all really familiar with it, the way it's reffed, the way they call things, the way you have to adjust during the game.
"For us, it's pretty easy."
It was against Croatia and Angola. They expect a stiffer challenge from Turkey on Wednesday.
Taurasi and five of her Olympic teammates have played in Istanbul so they are very familiar with the Turkish players.
"Playing over there and being used to the style of play and also knowing the personnel because they are on the same team, I think that's a huge help," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "They also can help me at times know what might work well."
The American players go overseas to earn money in the winter since the top salaries in the WNBA barely reach six figures. In Russia or Turkey, they can earn up to a $1 million.
Tamika Catchings spent a few seasons with the Turkish club Galatasaray and it took her a little while to adjust to the different style of play. Now the extra contact that's allowed internationally is just part of her game.
"They are a lot more physical and let you get away with a lot more," she said. "Some of the fouls they call in the U.S. aren't going to be close to being fouls overseas."
Lindsay Whalen will be the latest American Olympian to join a Turkish team next year when she plays for Galatasaray. She's been able to impact games for the U.S. women's team serving as the backup point guard to Sue Bird.
"She's definitely been a great change-up," Auriemma said. "Lindsay is much more direct, more physical than Sue. There's bodies flying when she's in the game. The tempo gets a little quicker when she's in the game."
Whalen has spent the past few years playing in the Czech Republic and was excited for the change. Her new team held a press conference for her when the U.S. was training in Istanbul.
"A lot of these girls will be my teammates next year or my opponents," Whalen said. "That's the way international basketball is. You get to play with girls one day and the next you're playing against them. Having the familiarity helps as you know what they can do."
The Turks have looked impressive in their first Olympic appearance and aren't intimidated by the top-ranked team in the world.
The U.S. has won its first two contests by an average of 38.5 points and is coming off a 52-point win over Angola. Turkey, however, hung with the Americans for three quarters of an exhibition game in Istanbul nine days ago before the U.S. pulled away to a 19-point victory.
"I've always thought that you can't judge what happens in any of the exhibition games leading up to the Olympics as to whether or not that's the team you're going to play," Auriemma said. "We're going to play a really good team — a team that's got some size, they shoot the ball exceptionally well, they've got tremendous experience.
"I've been incredibly impressed with them since last year's European championships. I know we'll play a somewhat different team than we played in Istanbul. I know we'll have to play a lot better than we played in Istanbul."
The Americans (2-0) could be playing without Sylvia Fowles against Turkey. She didn't play in the team's 52-point win over Angola on Monday night, resting a sore left foot. Fowles took it easy in practice on Tuesday.
"We'll see how it feels tomorrow morning," she said. "If I can go I'll go, if I can't I won't. We're not going to rush it and be smart."
The Turks played well in their wins over Angola and the Czech Republic and feel they have a chance to beat the U.S.
"Being that we were in the game with them with 3½ quarters our confidence is up," said center Quanitra Hollingsworth, who was born in the U.S. and starred at VCU before becoming naturalized to play for Turkey in May. "We know that if we come ready to play and focus we can give them a run for their money."
The one thing that the Turks won't have in London is the huge home crowd that backed them in the exhibition game. Still Auriemma doesn't think that will make too much of a difference.
"Home fans wherever we play other than their home team, their next favorite team is whoever is playing the U.S." he said. "The atmosphere here has been great."
After facing Turkey, the Americans — who have won 35 straight Olympic contests and four consecutive gold medals — still have contests against China and the Czech Republic in the preliminary round.
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