Team USA survived a major scare on Sunday in their final tune-up ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. After trailing by as much as 16 in the second half of their friendly against Germany in Abu Dhabi, Team USA closed on a dominant 22-5 run to secure a 99-91 victory and finish this warm-up series with a perfect 5-0 record.
After generally cruising through their first four exhibitions, Team USA looked a bit sluggish and out of sync early on. The offense, often forced to play in the halfcourt, was stagnant, Dennis Schroder was doing whatever he wanted and Germany was shooting the ball well from downtown.
The Germans took control late in the second quarter and pushed their lead to as much as 16 late in the third after a bucket by Johannes Voigtmann. That high point was short-lived, however, as Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves led a big American run to cut the deficit down to four heading into the fourth.
Then, it was Anthony Edwards time. The rising star for the Minnesota Timberwolves scored 14 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, matching the Germans’ total as a team by himself. His 3-pointer with 5:18 to play tied the game, and his free throws and mid-range jumper a few minutes later essentially sealed the win.
Edwards’ brilliant performance on Sunday further solidified his status as Team USA’s best player. As head coach Steve Kerr put it during his post-game press conference, “he’s, unquestionably, the guy.” Edwards led the team in scoring in four of the five friendlies, and averaged 18.8 points.
Team USA has been drawn into Group C for the World Cup, along with Greece, Jordan and New Zealand, and will begin play on Aug. 26 in Manila, Philippines — the site of all three of their group stage games. They must finish in the top two in their group to advance to the second round of the tournament.
As with any major international tournament, there is major pressure on the Americans to win the gold medal, but it is even greater this summer because of their poor showing in the last World Cup. Back in 2019 in China, the Americans limped to a seventh-place finish, their worst-ever showing in the event and the first time without a medal since 2002. Team USA last won the World Cup in 2014 and is tied with Yugoslavia for the most titles all-time with five.