The United States basketball team closed its preparations period for the FIBA World Cup, with a win over Canada. Gregg Popovich’s guys triumphed with 84-68.
It was the perfect response after the loss against Australia, which interrupted one of the longest winning streaks in the history of international basketball. The US team had 78 triumphs before falling to the Aussies this weekend.
But today, everything was much better for Gregg Popovich and his crew. The agility, the defense, flow of the ball. All that was evident right from the start, as the Americans took over the wheel from the tip-off.
They dismantled Canada in the opening quarter with 20-9, not allowing the neighbors to find their rhythm.
“We locked in,” said Myles Turner, who was one of the dominant figures on the court. ” I think last game was a wake-up call for us.”
Turner has locked the paint and was a massive problem for the Canadians in the defense. He had 10 points, but 15 boards and a couple of rejections which set the crowd on fire.
Canada came close in the second period, cutting the deficit to only five points, but that was just a temporary flash. In no time, the USA team made an 11-1 run which pulled them away to 15 points, 46-31. That was the difference at the halftime.
The second half wasn’t that interesting, because the USA controlled the result, without allowing Team Canada to have the slightest chance of coming back. Each time Nurse’s guys attempted something, the response was quick and severe.
Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum had a little dunk show of their own, and that brought back the good mood before the trip to China.
The best scorer on the American side was Jaylen Brown with 19 points. Mitchell and Kemba Walker had 12.
On the other side, Kyle Wiltjer delivered 21 points and was the best overall player. Turk Telekom’s big guy was unstoppable in some moments, but he couldn’t create such a huge difference. Khem Birch had 13 and 6, and the Orlando Magic signing was the only one who tried to help him.
The US team controlled the glass very well, and ended the match with a huge advantage in rebounds, 55-37. Also, as we mentioned earlier, Turner really showed up today, and showcased all of his qualities and the importance to this unit.
🚫 Myles Turner 🚫
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 26, 2019
This is the last test for both sides before the World Cup. They will now have a couple of days to rest, recharge their batteries before the start of the tournament.
“Now the real thing starts,” explained Mitchell. “We have four or five days, let’s take it right, get rested, and get right to it.”
The USA opens the quest towards the title against the Czech Republic. They will have two more matches in the group stage, against Turkey and Japan. According to the majority of experts, Americans shouldn’t have any problems until the second round when they probably have to play against Greece and the NBA’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Canada has a much tougher job. They are in the hardest group of them all, and are playing against Australia at the opener. After that, the next rival is Lithuania who is also a contender for the medal, and Senegal who comes to China with high ambitions.
These two selections will aim to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. In order to do so, they have to end as the top two nations from the Americas. Those are the qualifying rules. The USA is the biggest favorite for the title, and Canada was among the potential dark horses before the start, but many withdrawals ruined those prospects.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.