DAR Sports: Team USA's FIBA Ceiling
By Jeff Axel
With the 2023 FIBA World Cup taking shape and everything coming together, Team USA's select team was under skepticism due to everyone on the roster being on a FIBA team for the first time and there were no returning players from the last Olympic teams. However, after 2 practices, Team USA had an impressive showing in the exhibition against Puerto Rico in a 117-74 rout.
Jaren Jackson Jr. set the tone defensively and offensively on the interior blocking multiple shots and finishing multiple jump hooks, ending his night with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Anthony Edwards had a strong 3rd quarter with 11 of his 15 points coming in the period while also notching 4 assists and 4 steals as well. Not to mention, Austin Reaves had a strong 9 points in the first half giving the team a solid scoring punch off the bench. Cam Johnson had 15 points and 6 rebounds with a good scoring balance on all 3 levels, expanding beyond just shooting 3 pointers. Mikal Bridges played strong defense with 14 points and 3 steals as well. The starting lineup used their length to play the passing lanes and create transition opportunities.
Team USA had great balance with 29 total assists and 12 of those came from Tyrese Haliburton off the bench. They basically doubled up Puerto Rico in rebounds, with an insane margin of 53-27. With 7 players in double figures, it’ll be interesting to see how the half court offense will look against better compeition but considering this team was just put together last week, that was an impressive opening win. Team USA plays and Slovenia today and Luka will not be playing so it might be an easier game, but will they come prepared?
Only time will tell.