Team USA jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead in their friendly against a Luka Doncic-less Slovenia on Saturday and never looked back. They led by double-digits for the majority of the afternoon en route to a 92-62 victory in the second of five tune-up games ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
For the second consecutive game, Anthony Edwards led the way in the scoring department with 15 points, while Jalen Brunson (11 points, four rebounds and eight assists), Tyrese Haliburton (10 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Austin Reaves (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) all had solid all-around performances. It was a true team effort, as nine players had at least seven points and everyone on the roster scored.
About the only negative aspect of this outing for Team USA was that their poor 3-point shooting continued. After shooting just 6-of-27 from downtown against Puerto Rico earlier this week, the Americans went 9-of-33 versus Slovenia. It’s worth noting that Brunson is the only player on the roster who finished in the top 30 in 3-point shooting in the NBA last season, and Cameron Johnson, Haliburton, Reaves and Bridges were the only other players in even the top 75. They create so many good looks that you would expect the shooting to improve, but this could be an Achilles heel for this group.
Next up for the Americans is Spain on Sunday, which will conclude their short trip to Malaga. That game figures to be their first real test of the summer after two comfortable wins. After departing Spain, they will travel to the United Arab Emirates for their final two tune-up games against Greece and Germany in Abu Dhabi.
Then, it will be time for the real games to begin. Team USA has been drawn into Group C in the World Cup along with Greece, Jordan and New Zealand, with all of those games taking place in Manila, Philippines. Those games will run from Aug. 26-30, and they must finish in the top two to advance to the second round of the tournament.
There is always immense pressure on the Americans in any major tournament, but even more so this year after they stumbled to a seventh-place finish in the 2019 World Cup. Team USA last won the World Cup in 2014, and has five gold medals overall — tied with Yugoslavia for the most all-time.