Team USA annihilates Jordan to top its World Cup division. Team USA’s Anthony Edwards and Jordan’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added some spice to an otherwise low-drama contest by staging an uncommon American playground-style battle at the FIBA World Cup.
The two shooting guards exchanged points and gave the Mall of Asia Arena crowd something to watch besides the score as Team USA won Wednesday’s game, 110-62, to conclude pool play 3-0.
The United States advances to the second round of the World Cup and will face Montenegro (2-1) on Friday and Lithuania (3-0) on Sunday. Edwards was thrilled to meet Hollis-Jefferson, who served as one of his mentors during training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2020, his inaugural season. A six-year NBA veteran, Hollis-Jefferson entered the tournament as the second-leading scorer and one of the first week’s joyful stories.
“We haven’t seen each other since then, so it was a lot of fun,” Edwards said. And indeed, we were conversing with profanity out there.
Edwards threw multiple dunks, three 3-pointers, and even a pass behind his back. In 19 minutes, he concluded with 22 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.
Edwards fouled Hollis-Jefferson twice, something at which Hollis-Jefferson has become an expert over the past two seasons while playing overseas. Hollis-Jefferson drove, contorted, and baited the United States into fouling him eight times after drawing 15 fouls in a 39-point performance against New Zealand on Monday.
Hollis-Jefferson concluded with 20 points and seven rebounds despite suffering a left ankle sprain while driving to the basket in the first half.
During the third quarter, Edwards scored on back-to-back breakaways in a moment that summed up the performance. On the opening possession, Jordan’s Amin Abu Hawwas attempted to block Edwards’ dunk attempt, forcing him to settle for a jumper. Edwards gave him a sideways glance for squandering the opportunity.
After a Jordan turnover, Edwards had the ball on the break seconds later. Abu Hawwas slowed down this time behind Edwards as he performed a windmill layup to the crowd’s delight.
Team USA head coach Steve Kerr called a timeout late in the third quarter to remove his leaders. Edwards bid dieu by missing a 35-foot field goal attempt.
With an average margin of victory of 34 points through three games, Edwards was optimistic about Team USA’s chances of winning the World Cup for the first time since 2014 — especially after being asked about Sunday’s second-round game against Lithuania, which is also unbeaten.
Edwards stated with a grin, “I believe we’ll win.” “We are also undefeated. I believe we have an excellent opportunity to win. We have a fantastic coaching crew. We have excellent athletes. And our confidence is always high; we are not overly concerned about these men.”
The most significant event for the Americans during the contest was Kerr’s first starting lineup change in a month. Josh Hart replaced Brandon Ingram, who played well in Monday’s victory over Greece. The change was made for Ingram’s benefit, as his performance as a spot-up shooter had been abysmal. As he is accustomed to doing with the New Orleans Pelicans, he could play more with the second unit with the ball in his hands.
Ingram immediately appeared more at ease as a facilitator and played his finest game in Manila, recording five assists and seven points in 15 minutes.
“We felt it was important to evaluate Josh with the starting group and Brandon with the second group to see if the pairings worked,” Kerr explained. I enjoyed what I observed. The game was not competitive, but both teams displayed solid flow.”
Jaren Jackson Jr. also played well, accumulating 12 points, six rebounds, and two rejections.
With victories on Wednesday, Serbia, Georgia, and Brazil also advanced to the second round.