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Tiebreaker Times

2023 FIBA World Cup

FIBA: Banchero-led USA a hit, firepower too much for NZ

Team USA had to overcome a slow start to defeat a determined New Zealand, 99-72, in their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 opener, which took place in front of 10,978 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday.

The Tall Blacks began furiously, establishing an early 10-point lead of 14-4, thanks to baskets from Finn Delany, Shea Ili, Yannick Wetzell, and Reuben Te Rangi. They also forced Team USA into committing four turnovers in the first four minutes of the game.

Off-the-bench players Paolo Banchero, Tyrese Haliburton, and Austin Reaves provided the spark that the USA needed to kickstart their momentum, allowing them to enter halftime with a 45-36 lead.

Banchero then heated up in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and making all four of his shots, including two successful attempts from deep, to help Team USA extend their lead to 18 points, with the score at 76-58.

“Really good game for us to experience. New Zealand was great, they came out and were very physical right away. They took it to us and we need to feel that because that’s what these games are gonna be like. I love the way we responded,” said USA head coach Steve Kerr.

Banchero, the youngest player on the USA team, scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, along with four rebounds and four blocks.

Anthony Edwards contributed 14 points and seven rebounds, while crowd favorite Austin Reaves and Jaren Jackson Jr. each scored 12 points. The Lakers guard also added six assists and three steals.

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Te Rangi was the highest scorer for the Tall Blacks with 15 points on 16 shots, while Delany and Ili each scored 12 points.

Up next for the USA is a matchup against Greece, both of whom secured opening-game victories in Group C. Meanwhile, New Zealand will face Jordan. Both of these matches are scheduled for Monday.

The Scores:

USA 99 – Banchero 21, Edwards 14, Jackson Jr. 12, Reaves 12, Haliburton 10, Brunson 10, Bridges 7, Hart 5, Portis 4, Ingram 2, Johnson 2, Kessler 0.

New Zealand 72 – Te Rangi 15, Delany 12, Ili 12, Wetzell 10, Le’Afa 9, Cameron 5, Fotu 4, Smith-Milner 3, Britt 2, Brown 0, Harris 0, Ngatai 0.

Quarterscores: 19-18, 45-36, 76-58, 99-72.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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