USA kicks off FIBA World Cup exhibitions with emphatic win over Puerto Rico

Anthony Edwards and the rest of Team USA are off to a rousing start in their FIBA World Cup exhibition (Getty Images via

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Team USA Basketball just put up a statement victory after demolishing the Puerto Rican national team, 117-74, during their first FIBA World Cup tune-up game last August 8, 2023.

After trailing 4-8 in the opening quarter when the Puerto Ricans punished them with their backdoor cuts and wide-open dunks, the Americans suddenly flipped the switch after picking up their offensive pace midway through the first frame.

Soon as USA retook the lead, 14-12, courtesy of a Mikal Bridges coast-to-coast layup, the Americans never trailed in the whole game and started to impose their will on Puerto Rico.

Team USA started slow on the offensive end but let it all out in the next three quarters matched with their effort on the defensive side of the ball game.

Bridges led the young squad with 14 markers generated mostly from the fast break backstopped by Jaren Jackson Jr. who added 12 points.

It was at the end of the third quarter when the Americans took full control of the tune-up game after blitzing their way to a 20-0 run.

With the massive scoring rally, team USA quickly ballooned its lead to 33 points, 94-61, and never looked back in the remaining 7:39 of the exhibition match.

Aside from Bridges and Jackson Jr., the trio of Jalen Brunson, Bobby Portis, and Brandon Ingram also balled out against Puerto Rico and scored 12, 11, and 11, respectively.

Indiana Pacers’ superstar point guard Tyrese Haliburton ran team USA’s high-octane offensive attack after finishing the game with 12 huge assists.

“It’s just us playing together. We’re still getting to know each other, but everyone’s really putting egos aside just to win and we’ve got a lot of high-character guys. That’s the No. 1 priority for every single one of them,” said New York Knicks’ guard Brunson after the lopsided victory.

Team USA is mentored by Golden State Warriors’ chief tactician Steve Kerr assisted by Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra and Clippers’ Tyronn Lue.