Grant Hill, who is running USA Basketball, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr, have carved a different path for Team USA and so far it seems to be paying off: the US finished exhibition play 5-0 and are now preparing to move on to FIBA play.
Not that the fifth win was easy. The US, which has a smaller, faster and more athletic lineup, got a tough game from Germany.
As we see so often now, the Germans feature several NBA players: Dennis Schroder, Daniel Theis and the Wagner brothers, Franz and Mo.
The Germans are a much bigger team and they gave the US some real trouble, building a 71-55 lead in the third quarter on the back of a 10-1 run.
But Kerr put in a smaller lineup and the US rallied. Down 86-77 with 6:58 left, Team USA tied the score 86-86 with 5:17 left and took the lead for good at 89-86 with 2:15 left.
Afterwards, Kerr praised his team’s guts and said that his team had the most upside of any team in the tournament. Since it’s a young group that’s only been together for a couple of weeks, he’s surely right. A lot of the other teams have been together for years or even decades, or close to anyway.
Anthony Edwards has emerged as the best player and he had 34 against Germany. Tyrese Haliburton added 16.
Brotherhood members Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero had weaker outings: Ingram scored just three and Banchero finished with six.
So it’s on to the World Cup now and the US opens Saturday against New Zealand in Manila. We don’t know much about the Tall Blacks, but you can count on a Haka to get things started. Last time we saw that against a US team, the Americans appeared genuinely startled. Let’s hope Kerr tells them about it.