Anthony Edwards leads Team USA in win vs. Puerto Rico in FIBA World Cup tune-up: Who else stood out?



LAS VEGAS — Anthony Edwards was the last to join Team USA coach Steve Kerr’s starting lineup, but he was first among everybody in the Americans’ exhibition win over Puerto Rico.

Edwards, an All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves, dominated at both ends of the court with 15 points, four steals and four assists while shooting 7-of-12 from the field in Team USA’s 117-74 triumph over Puerto Rico in the first FIBA World Cup tune-up for both teams at T-Mobile Arena.

The Americans, who next play Luka Dončić and Slovenia in a friendly Saturday in Malaga, Spain, had a number of players stand out in this lopsided affair. Cam Johnson scored 15 off the bench; Mikal Bridges added 14 points; Tyrese Haliburton led all players with 12 assists off the bench and added seven points; Jalen Brunson posted a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

In the Americans’ two scrimmages last week against the U.S. Select team, Kerr opened with Brunson, Bridges, Brandon Ingram and Jaren Jackson Jr. On Friday, Johnson got the nod, and on Saturday, it was Edwards.

Barring injury, what we saw Monday in Las Vegas could very well be the same starters Kerr uses when Team USA begins the World Cup on Aug. 26 against New Zealand in Manila.

With 2021 Olympic gold medalists Kevin Durant and Draymond Green watching from the front row, the Americans used the first half to get going against a Puerto Rican team with two former NBA players — Tremont Waters and John Holland — in its lineup.

Team USA led by six after one quarter and 50-43 at halftime, but were shooting just 2-of-15 from 3 through two quarters, and missed a few noticeable defensive assignments. Edwards scored 11 points in a third period in which USAB blew the doors off of the game, making sure this one wasn’t a repeat of a few of the disappointing moments in its storied history.

At the 2004 Olympics, it was Puerto Rico that beat Team USA by 19 points for the Americans’ worst loss by point differential. And two years ago in Las Vegas, they lost both Olympic exhibition games, to Nigeria and then Australia.

Jackson, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and the player voted by his Team USA teammates as the best of the now-completed training camp, started strong with eight points in the first quarter and finished with 12 points, seven boards and two blocks, but he also struggled with foul trouble. Players are only allowed five fouls a game, instead of six like in the NBA, and Jackson picked up his third foul with more than eight minutes left in the third. He led the league in fouls last season, so this is a development to monitor.

In somewhat of a surprise, Kerr used Paolo Banchero as the backup 5, behind Jackson. Banchero plays more power forward and on the wing for the Magic.

Waters, who played parts of three seasons with Boston, Toronto and Washington, led Puerto Rico with 17 points. Jose Alvarado of the Pelicans sat next to the Puerto Rico bench but will not compete at the World Cup, as he continues his recovery from a stress reaction in his right tibia that cost him the final 20 games of the regular season.

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(Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)





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