In the first game preparing for the World Cup, USA Basketball’s team demonstrated their force with a definitive win over Puerto Rico, with a score of 117-74 on Monday evening.

Anthony Edwards and Cam Johnson were both notable players for the U.S., each contributing 15 points, while the team went on an impressive 20-0 streak during the second half, paving the way for their victory. Mikal Bridges also made his mark with 14 points, with the U.S. team ending with seven players scoring in double digits. They dominated the second half by outscoring Puerto Rico 67-31.

Coach Steve Kerr expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance, highlighting how well the players have embraced the strategies. The Americans exhibited a statistical advantage, including 53-27 in rebounding, 31-9 in points from turnovers, and 10-2 in blocked shots, while shooting at 56% to Puerto Rico’s 37%.

Jaren Jackson Jr., Jalen Brunson, Bobby Portis, and Brandon Ingram each contributed significantly, with Tyrese Haliburton assisting 12 times. Jalen Brunson emphasized the team’s unity, saying the players’ commitment to victory is their utmost priority.

For Puerto Rico, Tremont Waters was the lead scorer with 17 points, while George Conditt IV and Jordan Howard also contributed.

The game had its ups and downs, but ultimately the more skilled team triumphed, just as anticipated. Kerr’s focus on solid play without turnovers or fouling seemed to pay off.

The match also saw remarkable moments like Paolo Banchero blocking a shot with his elbow, and Austin Reaves receiving cheers from the Las Vegas crowd.

The game marks the beginning of the U.S.’s exhibition tour before the World Cup. They will be heading to Malaga, Spain for games against Slovenia and Spain, followed by matches in Abu Dhabi against Greece and Germany. The World Cup itself will be held in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, and the U.S. team will play in Manila throughout the tournament. The Americans are driven to rectify their disappointing seventh-place finish at the previous World Cup in China in 2019.

The win over Puerto Rico was characterized by the U.S. breaking away in the third quarter and expanding their lead, turning a seven-point advantage at halftime into a 23-point lead going into the final quarter. The margin continued to grow, with Kerr reflecting on a “good five days” in Las Vegas as they prepared to head to Malaga.

The U.S. team has an impressive record in World Cup exhibition games, boasting an 11-0 record on home soil and 24-1 overall. The match also saw debuts for Reaves and Johnson in USA Basketball.

The first starting lineup this summer was Bridges, Ingram, Edwards, Brunson, and Jackson Jr., though Coach Kerr mentioned that this lineup could change.

Prominent figures like Kevin Durant, Jerry Colangelo, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, and several NBA coaches and players were in attendance to show their support.

Puerto Rico’s next game will be against Italy in Ravenna, Italy, while the USA’s next match will be against Slovenia in Malaga, Spain on Saturday.

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