Team USA Dominates Puerto Rico in World Cup Warm-up Opener

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — In an impressive display of teamwork, Anthony Edwards and Cam Johnson each contributed 15 points as USA Basketball showcased their prowess in a World Cup tune-up game against Puerto Rico. Utilizing a remarkable 20-0 run during the second half, the Americans cruised to a commanding 117-74 victory on Monday night.

Mikal Bridges added 14 points for Team USA, which boasted a total of seven players reaching double-digit scores. Jaren Jackson Jr. chipped in with 12 points, while Jalen Brunson notched 11 points and 12 rebounds. Bobby Portis and Brandon Ingram also scored 11 points each. Tyrese Haliburton facilitated the offense effectively, finishing with 12 assists. Team USA further demonstrated their dominance by securing a commanding 53-27 rebounding advantage.

Puerto Rico’s Tremont Waters led his team with 17 points, supported by George Conditt IV’s 12 points and Jordan Howard’s 10 points.

The game showcased a mix of spectacular and sloppy moments, but it ultimately unfolded as expected, with the more talented team asserting their control.

The match marked the start of a series of five exhibitions for Team USA leading up to the World Cup. This was the sole game played in the U.S., as the team departs for Spain to face Slovenia and Spain in the coming weekend. Subsequently, they will travel to the United Arab Emirates for matches against Greece (Aug. 18) and Germany (Aug. 20) in Abu Dhabi.

Following these matchups, Team USA will proceed to Manila for the World Cup, spanning the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. Their tournament journey begins with games against New Zealand on Aug. 26, Greece on Aug. 28, and Jordan on Aug. 30.

The Americans are gearing up for a World Cup campaign that they hope will erase the disappointment of their seventh-place finish in the 2019 tournament in China.

The turning point of the game occurred in the third quarter, during which Team USA outscored Puerto Rico 34-18. This transformed a seven-point halftime lead into a commanding 23-point advantage entering the final quarter. The pivotal run extended their lead from 74-61 late in the third to an impressive 94-61 early in the fourth.

Key Notes

Puerto Rico: Like their American counterparts, Puerto Rico will compete in group-stage World Cup games in Manila, albeit in a different group. They are slated to face South Sudan on Aug. 26, Serbia on Aug. 28, and China on Aug. 30. Tremont Waters had experience playing for Boulogne-Levallois in France last season, a team associated with top draft pick Victor Wembanyama, now with the San Antonio Spurs.

USA: The U.S. team, with NBA players in the lineup, maintained their undefeated record of 11-0 in World Cup exhibition tour games on home soil and an overall record of 24-1 in such games. Their lone loss came against Australia in 2019. Noteworthy USA Basketball debuts were made by Austin Reaves and Cam Johnson. Josh Hart sat out for rest, with his potential national team debut anticipated in Spain on Saturday.

Opening Lineup

The initial starting lineup fielded by coach Steve Kerr this summer consisted of Bridges, Ingram, Edwards, Brunson, and Jackson Jr.

Supporting from the Sidelines

Prominent figures in basketball, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant, former USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, three-time Olympic gold medalist Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, New York coach Tom Thibodeau, Utah coach Will Hardy, and New Orleans guard Jose Alvarado, were among the attendees showing their support.

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