Brazil entered the contest needing a victory to advance to the next round of the tournament, and they played like a team that was desperate to stay alive. Despite having nothing to lose, Team USA came out and rivaled their intensity.
Marcelo Huertas was aggressive, looking to get his team on the board and scored 5 of their first 7 points in the opening quarter. Myles Turner set the tone for the Americans with 6 points to start the game.
The United States finished the first frame with a one-point lead, but couldn’t find a way to pull ahead of the Brazilians. While the U.S. shot a blistering 70% from inside the arc, Brazil out-rebounded them 19-15 and outscored their bench 27-12 behind a 15-point first half from Vitor Benite.
Kemba Walker (who was battling an illness) and Turner scored 10 points apiece as Team USA led 43-39 heading into halftime. Derrick White was quiet once again, tallying 2 points, 2 fouls, and a steal in six minutes of action.
Brazil matched the United States National Team shot for shot through three quarters but lost their momentum after Marcus Smart drained a debilitating buzzer-beater to end the third.
The final period was all USA as the Brazilians seemingly waved the white flag. Although the final score indicated an emphatic triumph for the Americans, Brazil legitimately gave them a run for their money for most of the outing.
White racked up 14 minutes in this one but played a minimal role, scoring just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. Turner and Walker finished the contest with 16 points each, and Jaylen Brown chipped in 11 points, including a monster jam early in the fourth.
Team USA now advances to the quarterfinals of the World Cup where they’ll look to become the first nation to capture three straight gold medals at this event (formerly the FIBA World Championships). They also extended their non-exhibition winning streak to 58 games and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with their victory this morning.
With that in mind, their path to Gold won’t be easy pickings. The United States now heads to Dongguan to face its steepest challenge yet when they square off against world No. 3 France led by Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier on Wednesday.
This one will be even earlier at 6:00 AM CT, and per usual it will be broadcast on ESPN+.