The United States Men’s National Basketball Team wiped the floor with Japan 98-45 in the final game of the first group stage at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Team USA barely escaped with a victory over Turkey two days ago but established their dominance early and often in a lopsided match-up with the Japanese National Team.
The Americans started the game on a 13-0 run and held the Japanese to single digits in the opening frame. Although Japan improved upon its pitiful first-quarter performance, their defense couldn’t handle the firepower of the U.S. offense as they slipped behind 23-56 at the half.
Everybody was involved in the balanced offensive onslaught, and even Derrick White had a hand in the action. The third-year San Antonio Spur headed into the locker room with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 11 minutes.
Head coach Gregg Popovich and crew could have pumped the brakes after blowing the game wide open, but Team USA kept their foot on the gas. The United States never trailed and built a lead as large as 62 points in the second half.
Jaylen Brown played the passing lanes, fought for rebounds and led the Americans with a game-high 20 points. Meanwhile, Yudai Baba put together an impressive 18 point outing in a contest where Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe fell silent.
Last second business decision @FCHWPO with authority pic.twitter.com/dZOIRHpuB2— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) September 5, 2019
White received a fair dose of minutes down the stretch, though he did very little with them, missing a pair of free throws, committing two turnovers and scoring just three more points (albeit on a steal that resulted in an impressive and-1).
DERRICK! WHITE! IS! GOOD! pic.twitter.com/qWrpqogLWW— Tom Petrini (@RealTomPetrini) September 5, 2019
All in all, White made some nice plays but was a mixed bag of results in a matchup that meant nothing for the United States.
Team USA punched their ticket into the second group stage Tuesday, and they now advance into the next round as the winner of Group E. While the Americans went undefeated through three games, Turkey had them on the ropes in their previous meeting. However, the Czech Republic upset Turkey this morning in a clash for Group E’s final spot in the second group stage.
They will join Team USA in their second round group that will be anything but a cakewalk. NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and a talented Greek National Team awaits them, as does an undefeated Brazilian team that took Group F with ease. Because this round works by each team playing the two from the other group, the Americans will not face the Czechs again.
The top two teams from this group (now Group K) will advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup. The matchup against Greece will be in Shenzhen on Saturday at 7:30 AM CT on ESPN+, and the Brazil match-up will be on Monday (same time, location, and broadcast).