Team USA enjoyed its second straight rout in exhibition play ahead of the FIBA World Cup, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Americans pulled away in the second half Saturday for a 30-point win over a Slovenian team without Luka Doncic, who sat out the game with a minor knee issue.
Combined with Monday’s victory over Puerto Rico, the U.S. has outscored its opponents by 73 points in two games. The competition will get tougher in today’s matchup with Spain, but head coach Steve Kerr is happy to see his players buy into a team concept so quickly.
“We put together the team with the idea of having a lot of good passers and play-makers,” Kerr said. “And with this team, we’ve seen through the first two exhibition games, everybody can pass. And so we really want to push the tempo and attack closeouts because once we put it on the floor, we know these guys will distribute it and move it all over again.
“And you know, I thought we almost overdid it tonight. I thought at times we had over threes and we drove and kicked it down, which as a coach, you never want to criticize your players for that because you’re always trying to get them involved.”
There’s more on the World Cup:
- Bobby Portis is disappointed that he won’t get to match up with Bucks teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo when Team USA faces Greece in an exhibition contest next week and again in pool play, Vardon adds. Antetokounmpo announced Friday that he will miss the World Cup as he continues to recover from minor knee surgery. “Obviously I’m sad, he’s sad, that he can’t play in the World Cup, but maybe that’s good for the Bucks,” Portis said.
- Greece will also be without Kostas Antetokounmpo, who was declared out with an injury on Sunday, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. A former NBA player with the Mavericks and Lakers, Antetokounmpo represented Greece in last year’s EuroBasket and the Olympic qualifying tournament in 2021.
- Former Celtics and Sixers center Vincent Poirier has joined the French team because of uncertainty surrounding Knicks draft-and-stash player Mathias Lessort, who is sidelined with an ankle issue, per Eurohoops. France is also adding Isaïa Cordinier in the wake of Frank Ntilikina‘s hamstring injury.