Much was made earlier in the week after USA Basketball’s national team was soundly beaten by a bunch of G League players during a scrimmage.
Maybe it was a wake-up call.
The Americans are on their way to the other side of the world, and they’ll have a win to think about on the way to Australia. Donovan Mitchell scored 13 points, Khris Middleton added 12 and the U.S. topped Spain 90-81 on Friday night in Anaheim in a warm-up exhibition in advance of the FIBA World Cup that starts in China on Aug. 31.
The U.S. is the top-ranked team in the world, Spain the second-ranked club.
The U.S. led virtually the whole way, saw its lead trimmed to eight on a 3-pointer by Spain’s Sergio Llull with 4:10 left — and responded with an 8-0 run over the next minute to restore order quickly. Joe Harris made a 3 to start the flurry, Derrick White got a runner from the lane to fall and Jayson Tatum’s 3-pointer from near the U.S. bench with 3:15 left made it 88-72 as the Americans sealed matters.
Marc Gasol led everyone with 19 points for Spain. Teammate Ricky Rubio had 16.
It was the first official win for Gregg Popovich as head coach of the national team, and the senior program’s 77th consecutive victory overall — a run that dates to the bronze-medal game of the 2006 world championships, now called the World Cup, and continuing on through the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, the Olympic runs in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and the World Cup titles in 2010 and 2014.
Most of those 77 wins have been one-sided. Only nine have been by single digits, and Spain has been the opponent in four of those contests.
Canada 90, Australia 70: Canada never trailed in a FIBA World Cup warm-up in Perth. Kevin Pangos scored 18 points for Canada, which is being led by Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Former St. Mary’s guard Patty Mills led Australia with 20 points.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/U-S-tops-Spain-in-basketball-World-Cup-warm-up-14339909.php.