Team USA got the test it was hoping for in today’s exhibition matchup with Australia, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Playing before more than 51,000 fans in Melbourne, the Americans trailed briefly in the second and third quarters before pulling away for a 102-86 victory.
“One of our big mantras has been ‘composure and poise,’” coach Gregg Popovich said. “Things are going to go the other way in some games. And the way you respond to that is really the measure of how you’re going to do.”
Popovich put together a challenging exhibition schedule to test his team before World Cup play officially starts at the end of the month. After facing second-ranked Spain last week, Team USA is playing a pair of games against Australia, then taking on Canada.
There’s more World Cup news to pass along:
- Before the game, Popovich told reporters he sees Australia as a legitimate threat for the gold medal, relays an Associated Press story. The Boomers feature several NBA players and have a core that has been together for a long time. “They are one of the teams that can win the whole thing, without a doubt,” Popovich said. “I’m not saying that because I’m here. It’s just a fact. They’ve been close for several years, and they are hungry. They are talented. They have the toughness and physicality to go with it. I think they are one of the top contenders.”
- International play has frequently set up future free agent moves, notes Douglas Farmer of Basketball Insiders. He singles out Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell as two players who could work well together, although both are expected to sign rookie scale extensions with their current teams, so that partnership may not be formed until 2027. Among 2020 free agents, Mason Plumlee and Joe Harris are both role players who could be valuable in the right situation. Farmer expects the four Celtics on the World Cup team to talk to Plumlee about coming to Boston, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez may sell Harris on the Bucks.
- Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson won’t be part of the Philippines team, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The nation included Clarkson’s name on the 19-man pool it submitted to FIBA just in case he was declared eligible, but head coach Yeng Guiao announced Wednesday that the team is moving on without him.