Recap of Spain vs. Slovenia by the USA FIBA Team

In what will be a blip on the USA’s overall radar to claim one of the most prestigious basketball trophies in the world. The Americans stayed undefeated in exhibition play over the weekend.

USA vs. Slovenia Recap

In the much-anticipated matchup against the Slovenian National team, the Americans stood ready to take on NBA superstar, Luka Dončić. It was a matchup they have been gearing up for, as Pistons guard, Cade Cunningham, helped the team prepare by playing “The Luka Role” in scrimmages while he was on the US select team. But unfortunately, the American’s preparation would have to be stored back in the vault for a later date, as Dončić would be ruled out with an injury.

A damper for the viewers, and a clear damper for Slovenia, as the USA went on to dismantle the Lukaless team 92-62. Anthony Edwards was the American’s top scorer in this matchup, with 15. He was aggressive early, pushing the agenda at the Slovenians. He did this with his shotmaking and bully-balling drives. When Edwards gets hot the American team can lean their offensive load on his shoulders.

The American Sparkplug

The American sparkplug, more commonly known as Bobby Portis, is becoming a fan favorite on the USA team. The energy and enthusiasm he encompasses are impossible to not get captivated in. And it was on full display on Saturday night.

Portis came off the bench riveting with energy. He took his game to the low post hit some fades, got some boards, and just flipped the game on its head. He injected the US side with an attentiveness that was not present while he sat charging on the bench. As the oldest player on the team at 28, Portis very clearly has garnered the respect of his peers, as they have no choice but to tap into Portis’ playstyle. A playstyle that is made up of three things. Heart, hustle, and of course pure energy.

A playstyle that lapsed at times in the Americans’ matchup with Spain, as they managed to scrape past with a 98-88 win. A game that was much closer than what the ten-point margin indicated.

USA vs. Spain Recap

The Americans closed out the first half on an Austin Reaves dunk. Giving them a ten-point advantage heading to the locker room, leading 55-45. Spain however would come out with a vengeance, cutting into the USA’s lead rather fast.

Forcing turnovers, hammering home threes, the Americans looked panicked as they saw their lead dwindle. Which resulted in them starting to pass less. They started to just try to score with their pure athleticism and individual playmaking. Which at some points was rather effective. But in the long run of things the Americans will need to continue to swing the ball around in order to be successful in The World Cup.

Despite this small lapse in ball movement at the start of the second half, the US would get back to their team ball that has been so familiar in the first two games, ending the game with an assist total of 27.

Individual Performances

Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson all, but stole the show with a perfect game from the field, going nine for nine for 22 points. He was hitting from anywhere, and everywhere. At the rim, behind the line, at the midrange. Spain had no answer for the New York Knick, and the sad part is when Brunson gets subbed out his counterpart, Tyrese Haliburton, comes with a whole new list of problems.

Tyrese Haliburton

Haliburton put on another impressive showing passing the ball, racking up 12 assists in this matchup. But another part of Haliburton’s game that was impressive was his defense.

There was a noticeable uptick in the USA’s defense when Haliburton subbed in for Brunson. Haliburton being a bigger guard is able to switch more willingly through screen actions and is able to fight through them if need be.

The Pacers guard collected three steals in this contest and proved his defense will be a vital key to the Americans’ success in their run to winning The FIBA World Cup.

Other Notable Individual Performances

Jaren Jackson Jr. put together a solid performance, scoring 14 points and stamping his DPOY status with three blocks. Jackson Jr. will need to continue his defensive prowess. Jackson Jr. needs to be the defensive anchor for the US during their run.

Austin Reaves and Brandon Ingram provided a spark in the scoring department, both netting 11 points. Ingram is able to create his own shot which is a weapon in its own right. And Reaves is as streaky of a scorer as they come, when he gets going just move out of the way and let the Laker do his thing.

Overall Recap

Although there were small stretches where the US played poorly, the two-game exhibition trip was a flat-out success. The USA took care of business with Slovenia. And then went on to beat one of the best teams in The World Cup, in Spain.

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