San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich led Derrick White and Team USA to a dominant victory over Japan in the preliminary round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Thursday.
After narrowly escaping a thriller against Turkey in their last outing, the United States showed the dominance they are capable of with a 98-45 win over Japan.
Team USA, led by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, came out red hot in their third game at the FIBA World Cup, scoring the game’s first 13 points before finally giving up a pair of free throws almost five minutes into the first quarter. The play of Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell set the tone early with their quickness and outside shooting, while Myles Turner was dominant on the glass.
Following the news that Jayson Tatum would miss two games with a sprained ankle, the Spurs’ emerging star Derrick White took advantage of extended minutes with his best performance at the World Cup so far. In the first quarter, White knocked down his first three-pointer of the tournament and pitched in a couple of assists and a rebound to help the USA secure a 23-9 lead heading into the second.
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White finished with eight points, three rebounds, and three assists. Derrick also led the team with three steals, including another impressive defense-to-offense sequence in the third quarter in which he stole the ball in the backcourt before spinning on three Japanese defenders for an and-one layup.
Jaylen Brown led the way for Team USA with 20 points and seven rebounds while Kemba Walker added 15 points and eight assists. Harrison Barnes also had a complete game, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds, and two steals.
Although the United States had already secured a spot in the next round of the World Cup, a team effort like this was sorely needed to right the ship after nearly having lost to the Turkish national team.
Team USA will move on to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, taking on NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece this Saturday.