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FIBA World Cup: USA defeats Greece to reach second round

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2023 FIBA World Cup team USA vs Greece
Team USA defeated Greece in the 2023 FIBA World Cup to reach the second round. | PHOTO: FIBA |
  • Team USA improved their performance, beating Greece 109-81 in the FIBA World Cup, securing a spot in the second round
  • Captain Jalen Brunson’s fiery leadership and a strong second unit led by Austin Reaves were key factors in the win
  • Despite a slow start, top scorer Anthony Edwards regained his rhythm, contributing to the team’s improved performance

On Monday night, Team USA demonstrated a more focused, cleaner, and overall improved performance in their 109-81 victory over Greece in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. With this win, the U.S. secured their spot in the second round after their final pool play game against Jordan on Wednesday.

Kerr commented on the team’s effort, stating, “Really good effort from our guys. Our thought process every game is to wear the opponent down. We’re just trying to stay solid on every possession and really put pressure on the opponent.”

However, in their opening game against New Zealand, this wasn’t always the case. While the Americans emerged victorious, they were often the less physical and less prepared team during a significant portion of the game. Such habits had raised concerns for the national team in the past.

Yet, these concerns were effectively put to rest in the game against Greece. The Greek team, despite missing their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo due to injury, was arguably the most formidable opponent the U.S. would face in the pool play.

USA forward Austin Reaves vs Greece FIBA World Cup

USA basketball forward Austin Reaves dunks during their 109-81 victory over Greece in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. | PHOTO: BR |

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Jalen Brunson, who had delivered somewhat lacklustre performances in previous games, sought to set a different tone as demanded by his role as captain. He aggressively looked for his shots, engaged with the referees, and displayed a fiery attitude that he hoped would inspire his teammates. Brunson had a standout performance, making all five of his shots and contributing 13 points, marking a significant improvement for the Team USA starters who had struggled in the previous two games.

Brunson shared his perspective on the team’s growth, stating, “For us, it’s all about feel and how we just need to attack the game as soon as we step on that court. We’re still growing, we’re still learning, and we still have a lot of time to get better.”

Anthony Edwards, the top scorer for the U.S. in warm-up games, experienced a slow start in Monday’s contest, making just 1-of-6 shots. However, he regained his rhythm as the game progressed and finished with 13 points.

Overall, the performance of the starters improved compared to their recent outings but still fell short of the second unit. Kerr often groups his substitutes together, and the gap in effectiveness between the first and second teams remained evident.

READ: Serbia to be without star player Nikola Jokic at FIBA World Cup

During the first half, the U.S. starters outscored Greece by a mere two points, while the second unit, led by Austin Reaves’ spirited play, boasted an impressive plus-11. This cushion made the second half more comfortable, and the starters built momentum by extending the lead in the third quarter.

Austin Reaves drew fouls, thrilled the crowd with breakaway dunks, and even engaged in some trash talk while amassing 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

However, Reaves was not the sole contributor to the team’s success. Tyrese Haliburton and Paolo Banchero excelled on the defensive end, challenging the taller Greek players in the post and accumulating critical stops. Haliburton blocked two shots, while Banchero, who continues to receive minutes as a backup centre, remained resilient in the post.

In summary, Team USA significantly improved their performance against Greece, learning from their earlier frustrations. The game showcased the team’s growing chemistry and potential for further development as they progress in the FIBA World Cup.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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