Team USA handled business this morning, defeating Greece 69-53 in their first game of the second round of group play.
The United States dominated Japan two days ago, and they carried that momentum into this today’s match-up with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greek National Team.
The Greek Freak kicked off the contest with a quick 5 points, and the Americans couldn’t buy a bucket. Despite their poor shooting, the U.S. made defensive adjustments and finished the first quarter with a 19-17 lead.
Giannis is on early. USA. Greece.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 7, 2019
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Team USA continued to struggle shooting the ball, but their lockdown defense held the Greeks to just 8 points in the second quarter, and an ice-cold 26% field goal percentage in the first half.
Jaylen Brown and Myles Turner paced the United States in scoring with 8 points apiece on a combined 6-of-9 shooting from the field. Derrick White was not as efficient, entering halftime with 2 fouls, 2 turnovers, and 2 points.
If you thought the first half was slow, the second half was even slower. The two international teams put on a brick-fest, culminating in a wrestle for rebounds that the United States ultimately won 50-40.
While the final quarters of play were agonizingly dull, Kemba Walker and Harrison Barnes gave fans a reason to stay tuned in. Barnes finished the contest with 9 points, and Walker dropped 15 points to lead the Americans in scoring.
White began the game looking hesitant and uncomfortable, but settled in down the stretch. The third-year San Antonio Spur was active on the defensive side of the ball and ended his outing with 9 points in 14 minutes of action.
@spidadmitchell with the NO LOOK dime for @usabasketball! #USAGotGame #FIBAWC— NBA (@NBA) September 7, 2019
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Team USA led by as many as 19 points and never relinquished the lead once they hopped out in front. Although the U.S. suffered from a case of poor shooting, they relied on their stingy defense to bring home the dub.
The United States now joins the Czech Republic atop the Group K leaderboard after both squads came away with a victory this morning.
Next up for Team USA is a meeting with Leandrinho Barbosa (you may know him as Leandro from his NBA days) and a desperate Brazilian National Team. Brazil cannot advance to the next round of the FIBA World Cup if they lose, so the Americans will need to be ready to absorb their best effort.
That game will be broadcast Monday (7:30AM CT) on ESPN+.