Manila, Philippines – The Americans didn’t hit the ball very well, the ball wasn’t moving as fast as usual from teammate to teammate, and they definitely didn’t bounce.
Going forward, their underdog opponent devised an excellent game plan and almost executed it to perfection.
But it took a little time for Montenegro to upset Team USA, and they didn’t have that.
Anthony Edwardsafter securing team USA wins in the next two games, scored all 17 of its points in the second half, Austin Reeves Hit 3 in time and the Americans beat Montenegro 85-73 in the FIBA World Cup second round match.
Edwards, who remains the team’s top scorer in the cup, overcame the negative start 0 out of 5 in the first half, which ended with Montenegro leading 39-38.
“I felt like I let my team down in the first half,” Edwards said. “For example, I wasn’t aggressive, I stopped shooting after I went 0 to 5, so it’s things I don’t usually do. So I had to talk to myself in the locker room to be able to move forward.
The Americans, who secured a spot in the quarterfinals with Lithuania’s victory over Greece on Friday, will play Lithuania at 8:40 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Edwards hit his first jumper at home at 9:25 in the third quarter and scored again on the ensuing possession. He finished the period with 10 points, clearly on his way after Stern gave himself to himself, finishing the game on 7-of-16 shooting with three rebounds and four turnovers.
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The game was still tense until there were less than three minutes remaining. Reeves, who scored 12 points overall, nailed a 3 with 2:48 remaining to take a 75-68 lead — the United States’ largest lead to that point. He gave the “ice in the veins” dance as the shot sprayed, and he wasn’t kidding. With the way Montenegro maintained the lead thanks to a massive advantage on the glass and timely baskets from the NBA All-Star team, Chicago Bulls big Nikola VucevichReeves’ shot was decisive.
“It was obviously a big shot,” Reeves said. “It’s one of those plays (where) if I go in, I look good. If it doesn’t, you know, everyone looks at me sideways.
within two minutes, Garren Jackson JrSkyhook’s hook, Mikal Bridges’ stance, and Edwards’ 2-footer put this out of reach. Jackson, who had foul trouble in the first half, finished with 11 points but did not pull down any rebounds. Bridges scored 10 points, as he did Therese Halliburtonwho led with six assists off the bench.
It was Halliburton instead Galen Bronson Which Team USA coach Steve Kerr was on the field in the final minutes.
“I felt like both Ty and Austin were playing great,” Kerr said. “We went back to Ant and JJ and decided to keep those guys on the ground. And it’s a good lineup. I think we have that lineup against Germany (in the exhibition season) if I’m not mistaken. So, it’s a lineup that we trust and like, and they played well and with a good rhythm they accomplished.” the mission.
Now, for the massacre.
It starts with Montenegro and Vucevic, who finished the season with 18 points and 16 rebounds. These are perhaps gaudy and predictable numbers. He is the only current NBA player on his team and a two-time All-Star.
What couldn’t have happened (but did) was Montenegro’s 49-31 overall advantage on the glass. Vučević’s team had 22 second chance points. He looked to use his distinct size advantage (6-foot-5 Josh Hart started at the four) and attacked in the post, giving Jackson trouble in the first quarter.
Montenegro’s only other scorer in double figures was Youngstown State graduate Kendrick Perry (14 points), but if not for a whopping 22 turnovers (Haliburton-Reeves-Hart pressure had something to do with that), he might have pulled off the biggest upset. In the history of basketball in the country.
“I knew we were going to win,” Edwards said, admitting his Wednesday guarantee crossed his mind when the game was close. “Yes sir. I knew we were going, I knew we were going to win from the start. I mean they made a lot of shots.”
Well, no, in fact, Montenegro scored just as many field goals as Edwards’ team. The Americans finished 5-of-19 3-point shooting but were only 1-of-9 in the first half. They assisted on 19 of 30 field goals, but the ball stuck more in Edwards’ hands, and on the post, than Kerr, who praised the past ball movement of Team USA, was used to. They also missed 10 of their 30 shots fouled, much to the chagrin of USA shooting expert and travel consultant Chip England.
“They’re a tough team to play against,” Reeves said. “They are trying to spoil the game. They are trying to slow it down, make it a low possession game, which is the opposite of what we want to do. So we had to figure that out in the second half and make big attacks all the way through.
“It was good for us to play one of these games and be in difficult situations so that we know how to deal and play under such adversity.”
Paolo Banchero (eight points, four rebounds) played with his right hand, which is severely immobilized due to a thumb injury he suffered against Greece in the first round. Bobby Portis saw extended minutes but only made 1-of-6 shots.
The Americans now lead 4-0, and the worst they can do is finish 4-1 in two rounds. In the event they lose to Lithuania, the USA team will win a tiebreaker over Greece due to their victory in the first round. With its loss on Friday, Montenegro was eliminated from the tournament.
But if the United States had lost this Friday, tiebreaker chaos might have followed. And remember, qualification for the Olympics is at stake in the World Cup, too. The USA team has to finish in the top two of all the teams from the two American continents in the cup, and at the moment Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Brazil are still here.
So, yeah, we’d better work on those boards. And those 3s. and free throws.
“I thought Black Mountain was great,” Kerr said. “This is a really well-coached team. They had their game plan. Everybody knew their roles and they executed it. I think they got (23) offensive boards, and they tried to bomb us inside. But I’m proud of our guys. Our night was not offensive.”
“We’ll look at the tape. I didn’t think we moved the ball well at all, and that’s why we got into the trouble that we did. But these games are played, and you have to be able to fight through them, and I think our guys did a great job with that.
(Photo by Austin Reeves and Anthony Edwards: Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
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