USA on cruise control, advance to the Second Round
MANILA (Philippines) - Before Greece could make it interesting, the United States ran away with a strong first half to claim their second win in as many games at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, 109-81 on the scoreboard.
They are now headed to the Second Round as group winners, with the matter of carrying over either a 3-0 or a 2-1 record, depending on their last Group C game.
They will face Jordan in that one, while Greece and New Zealand go head to head in the battle for the second spot on Wednesday.
Turning point: The moment Paolo Banchero stepped on the floor for the first time. While Greece were torturing USA's drop coverage with Jaren Jackson Jr, their offense stalled once Banchero came in and coach Steve Kerr issued orders to switch everything.
Better defense meant easier transition and points in a hurry, leading to an 11-2 advantage in fast break points in the first half. That was good enough to make this a 13-point game at the break, there was no comeback after halftime.
TCL Player of the Game: Austin Reaves is a hero in the Philippines, any time he touched the ball, 11,392 fans in the Mall of Asia Arena were losing their voices, and he finished with team-highs of 15 points and 6 assists, while also grabbing 5 rebounds and getting 2 steals.
Reaves became the first player to combine 15+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists off the bench at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
Stats don't lie: Not a lot you can do when USA are controlling the boards and running the floor. They had a 40-25 advantage in rebounds, and held Greece to just 6 fastbreak points in 40 minutes, while scoring 32 themselves in that same stat column. Also, Greece's 7-of-15 shooting from the free throw line won't intimidate anybody.
Bottom line: USA are through, and could carry over a perfect 3-0 record if they beat Jordan in 48 hours. Greece still have to fight for the second spot, facing New Zealand on Wednesday.
Georgios Papagiannis played his best game in the national team jersey, getting 15 of his 17 points in the first half alone. Coach Dimitris Itoudis will need a similar performance to see Greece through to the round of 16.
They said: "In the first half we had a very good game, very good performance. They made a lot of tough shots. We stuck to the plan, we had many late offensive shot clock situations, and they were not effective. Overall, we had a good performance. In the second half we couldn't match their aggressiveness and their rhythm." - Nikos Rogkavopoulos, Greece
"They played better, they were a better team. We couldn't compete the way we wanted to. We wanted them to feel us on the court, but the fact they scored 70 percent of twos, they didn't feel us." - Dimitris Itoudis, Greece head coach
"All of our guys saw the result of France last night, and it was a good reminder to all of us. You just can't ease into any game in this tournament, the level of competition is so much better now than it was even eight years ago. A lot of really good talent around the world, a lot of good coaching." - Steve Kerr, USA head coach
"That second unit is relentless. They come in and they change the game from the moment they step on the floor. Props to them, props to how they approach the game, and for us in the first unit, we're getting better. For us is all about feel and how we attack the game as soon as we step on the floor. We're still a new group, we're still learning, we're still growing." - Jalen Brunson, USA