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MANILA, Philippines – As expected, USA completed a dominant 3-0 sweep of its group phase matches at the Mall of Asia Arena after making easy work of Jordan on Wednesday, August 30.
The all-NBA Americans dominated the Jordanians, led by naturalized player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, from start to finish en route to a whopping 48-point victory – their largest winning margin in this year’s World Cup.
With USA now marching on to the second round, team captain Jalen Brunson is bracing for stiffer competition as the Americans will go up against the top two teams from Group D in Lithuania and Montenegro.
“[They’re] two great teams. Two teams who are proven,” said Brunson of the Lithuanians and the Montenegrins.
“We’ve got our hands full. That’s something that we just have to be ready for,” he added.
Like the Americans, the eighth-ranked Lithuanians swept their group phase campaign, winning their games by an average of 25.3 points.
New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas has been a force down low for Lithuania, leading the team with a double-double of 13.7 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
Montenegro, likewise, is powered by an NBA big man in Chicago Bulls star Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 20.7 markers and 7 boards in the group phase.
USA head coach Steve Kerr echoed Brunson’s sentiments, noting the competition will only get tougher as the Americans look to recapture the gold medal after a forgettable seventh-place finish in the 2019 World Cup.
“We know that the competition is about to get tougher,” said Kerr.
“We get to the second round, the teams go from 32 to 16. We have the best teams now and we have to play really well to win.”
USA tussles with Montenegro on Friday, September 1 at 4:40 pm, before slugging it out with Lithuania on Sunday, September 3 at 8:40 pm. – Rappler.com