Las Vegas, NV—Anthony Edwards, Team USA Tramples Puerto Rico 117-74 in Exhibition Showcase Game Ahead of FIBA World Cup.
With the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup just a few weeks away, the United States men’s team had its first action in a scrimmage against Puerto Rico on Monday in Las Vegas. At halftime, the U.S. leading by just seven points. However, a dominant second half helped Team USA earn a 117-74 victory.
Anthony Edwards and Cameron Johnson led the squad in scoring with 15 points each while Mikal Bridges was right behind them with 14. Jaren Jackson Jr, Bobby Portis, Jalen Brunson, and Brandon Ingram also reached double figures, with Jackson scoring 12 and the latter three each scoring 11.
Puerto Rico’s Tremont Waters led all scorers with 17 points while George Conditt IV had 12 and Jordan Howard had 13.
“It was a great night for us. I think the guys have really picked up what we’re trying to install at both ends,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said.
It was the first of five exhibitions before the World Cup for the Americans, and the only one that will be played in the U.S. The team flies to Malaga, Spain on Tuesday for games this weekend against Slovenia and Spain, then heads to the United Arab Emirates for games in Abu Dhabi against Greece (Aug. 18) and Germany (Aug. 20). From there, it’s on to Manila. The World Cup will be held in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia; the U.S. will be in Manila for the entirety of the tournament and opens against New Zealand on Aug. 26, followed by Greece on Aug. 28 and Jordan on Aug. 30.
The Americans are tuning up for a World Cup that, they hope, avenges the disappointment of four years ago. The U.S. was seventh at the World Cup in China in 2019, the worst finish for any American men’s team in a major international tournament.
Tyrese Haliburton finished with 12 assists for the U.S., which held some huge stat edges — 53-27 in rebounding, 31-9 in points off turnovers, 10-2 in blocked shots and shot 56% compared to Puerto Rico’s 37%.
It was opening statement, USA Basketball’s World Cup team made an emphatic one.
“I think our whole thing is, if we stay solid and really play without turning it over, without fouling, guard the 3-point line and really do a good job on the glass, then we feel like over 40 minutes we can wear people down,” Kerr said.p