US shakes off sluggish begin and tops New Zealand 99-72 in FIBA World Cup opener

Sports activities Information

Paolo Banchero scored 21 factors off the bench to provide the Individuals begin in group play.

U.S. ahead Paolo Banchero (8) shoots over New Zealand ahead Isaac Fotu (42) in the course of the second half of a Basketball World Cup group C match in Manila, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (AP Photograph/Michael Conroy) AP

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Paolo Banchero is aware of all concerning the haka, the standard dance that was carried out by New Zealand’s gamers pregame on Saturday as the standard rallying cry to point out nationwide delight and function a problem to opponents.

He accepted that problem.

Banchero scored 21 factors off the bench in his first World Cup recreation, Anthony Edwards added 14 and the U.S. shook off a 10-point early deficit on the best way to beating New Zealand 99-72 within the event opener for each groups.

“I really like watching them play,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr stated. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to educate them simply due to their eagerness to play collectively and be selfless and to compete.”

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Austin Reaves every scored 12 for the Individuals, who remained unbeaten in six video games this summer season — the primary 5 of them exhibitions. This recreation was the primary that counted for the Individuals, who’re attempting to win the World Cup for the sixth time and erase the reminiscence of ending seventh in FIBA’s greatest event 4 years in the past in China.

It wasn’t simple for the pre-tournament favorites: Their lead was solely 12 with 2:01 to go within the third earlier than Banchero hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to provide the U.S. its greatest fringe of the evening to that time, and the Individuals stored management from there.

“And his protection,” Edwards stated of Banchero. “I believe his protection energized his offense.”

New Zealand’s gamers carried out a pregame haka — the present of dancing, stomping and chanting accomplished by your complete 12-man roster — with the U.S. gamers standing on the different finish and watching in silence.

The haka labored; New Zealand took a fast 14-4 lead. A 12-2 run by the U.S. tied the sport, Tyrese Haliburton’s 3-pointer with 6:58 left within the first half put the Individuals up for good, the lead was 45-36 by the half and the winners stored pulling away.

“They went on somewhat run, however no nerves,” Edwards stated. “We do that. We put the work in.”

The haka took Banchero again to his highschool days. Enjoying soccer on a group with Pacific islanders, Banchero has really accomplished the haka. He is aware of its that means, is aware of its intent — and possibly it sparked him to his greatest recreation up to now this summer season.

“It was good to have the ability to see up shut,” Banchero stated. “I really loved it.”

The U.S. might safe a spot within the second spherical as early as Monday, when it takes on Greece (1-0) in a rematch of an exhibition recreation in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. The Individuals gained that recreation 108-86, with each groups holding some issues again figuring out they’d play for increased stakes in Manila.

Greece coach Dimitrios Itoudis stated he anticipated his group’s opening recreation — a 21-point win over Jordan on Saturday — to be robust. He was requested postgame what he anticipated from the matchup with the U.S.

“More durable one,” Itoudis stated. “A lot harder one.”


New Zealand: No participant on New Zealand’s roster has performed an NBA recreation. The gamers on the U.S. roster have mixed to attain 49,395 factors in 3,454 NBA video games, together with playoffs. … Finn Delany and Shea Ili every scored 12. … New Zealand’s bench bought outscored 54-23 by the U.S. reserves.

USA: Jackson Jr. had an ideal taking pictures evening — 4 for 4 from the sector, 4 for 4 from the road. … The Individuals used 10 gamers within the first quarter, in search of the mixture that labored. … The U.S. outscored New Zealand by 28 factors in Josh Hart’s quarter-hour of play. … Haliburton and Jalen Brunson every scored 10 factors for the Individuals.


The U.S. assistant coaches are splitting scouting tasks in the course of the event. Gonzaga coach Mark Few was tasked with making ready the report for the New Zealand recreation, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue will do it for the Greece recreation on Monday and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has it for the Jordan recreation on Wednesday.


The U.S. has performed New Zealand 4 instances now in senior males’s competitors and gained all of them. The U.S. prevailed 102-56 on the 2000 Olympics, 110-62 on the 2002 World Cup and 98-71 on the 2014 World Cup.


New Zealand: Faces Jordan on Monday.

USA: Faces Greece on Monday.