Friday, February 23, 2024

Team USA’s balance buries Slovenia in FIBA World Cup exhibition

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Mikal Bridges drives to the basket during the game against Slovenia.

MALAGA, Spain (AP) — Anthony Edwards led a balanced effort with 15 points, Jalen Brunson added 11 points and eight assists, and the U.S. World Cup team beat Slovenia 92-62 on Saturday in an exhibition game.

Austin Reaves and Tyrese Haliburton each scored 10 for the Americans, who improved to 2-0 on their five-game slate of exhibitions before getting to the Philippines for the World Cup. It opened exhibition play Monday with a 117-74 win over Puerto Rico in Las Vegas.

All-NBA guard Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks was held out of Saturday’s game as a precaution. He scored 17 points in Slovenia’s 99-79 loss to Spain on Friday and missed some of that game after a bit of an awkward landing on a drive.

All 12 U.S. players scored, and five finished with between seven and nine points. Mikal Bridges scored nine, Cam Johnson, Paolo Banchero and Bobby Portis each had eight, and Brandon Ingram had seven for the winners.

The U.S. plays Spain — a matchup of the world’s two top-ranked nations according to FIBA, which has Spain atop that list — in another exhibition on Sunday.

“One more stage of our preparation against the strongest rival in the world,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said.

After Sunday, the U.S. team flies to the United Arab Emirates for games in Abu Dhabi against Greece (Aug. 18) and Germany (Aug. 20).

From there, it’s on to Manila. The World Cup will be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia; the U.S. will be in Manila for the entirety of the tournament, and opens against New Zealand on Aug. 26, followed by Greece on Aug. 28 and Jordan on Aug. 30.

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