FIBA World Cup

‘Relentless’ second unit keeps unbeaten USA rolling

Jasmine W. Payo

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‘Relentless’ second unit keeps unbeaten USA rolling

LOCKED IN. USA's Josh Hart (right) and Paolo Banchero react during a game against Greece.

Lisa Marie David/REUTERS

‘Every single guy is all in, we’re having so much fun every day,’ says coach Steve Kerr as unbeaten USA leans on a balanced effort in the FIBA World Cup

MANILA, Philippines – As the all-NBA USA squad adjusts to the “feel” of the FIBA World Cup, the guys off the bench continued to make things happen for the favored Americans. 

Austin Reaves and Paolo Banchero delivered the numbers in USA’s back-to-back wins against New Zealand and Greece, as their fellow support crew of Tyrese Haliburton, Josh Hart, Bobby Portis, and Cam Johnson also figured in pivotal plays. 

“That second group is relentless,” said USA starting point guard Jalen Brunson. “They come in and they change the game from the moment they step on the court. So props to them and props to how they approach the game.”

Just like USA head coach Steve Kerr – who said the team continues to adjust to the physicality of FIBA games and other technical differences with NBA rules – Brunson noted that the starters get the first feel, thus their slow start in the first two games. 

“I think for us that first group, we’re getting better. We’re starting better. I think for us it’s all about the feel and how we attack the game as soon as you step on the court,” said Brunson.

“But I guess the best part about it is we’re still a new group, we’re still growing, we’re still learning, and there’s still a lot of time to get better before the next game. We’re going to continue to do that and that’s our approach every time we step on the court.”

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USA, which already booked a slot in the second round, wraps up its Group C assignment against winless Jordan at 4:40 pm on Wednesday, August 30, at the Mall of Asia Arena.  

Kerr also noted the positives of assembling a young squad of mostly international first-timers. 

“I’m really lucky to work with such a great crew. This team is amazing to coach,” said the multi-titled head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

“We were just saying in the locker room this isn’t normal – to have 12 guys who are all pulling for each other every single day, regardless of how many minutes they play, how many points someone scored,” added Kerr. 

“Every single guy is all in, we’re having so much fun every day. This is a special experience and I’m just happy to be part of it.” – Rappler.com

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Jasmine W. Payo

Jasmine joined Rappler as its sports editor in 2018 after over a decade of working as a sportswriter for a national broadsheet.