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Next Up For Team USA In FIBA World Cup Play: Jordan

Obviously the US is heavily favored and an upset is highly unlikely, but you still have to play the game and stranger things have happened.

Greece v USA: Group C - FIBA Basketball World Cup
 MANILA, PHILIPPINES - AUGUST 28: Brandon Ingram #7 of USA attemps a dunk during the FIBA Basketball World Cup Group C game between Greece and United States at Mall of Asia Arena on August 28, 2023 in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

After Team USA’s big win over Greece, the Americans get a bit of break with Jordan scheduled for Wednesday (game time is 4:40 am EST so it’ll be over when you see this).

The Jordanians are 0-2 but in FIBA play, American-born Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has sparkled. Jordan has not done well this year, but there’s no particular reason why they couldn’t improve down the road and, as Mike Krzyzewski warned Duke fans (and his teams) for years, you must respect your opponent. The price for not doing so is potential disaster.

For the US, Anthony Edwards was supposed to the breakout star and he has played really well, but the biggest surprise is probably Austin Reaves.

Reaves has just been terrific. He’s coming off the bench but he’s playing like a starter. The 6-5 guard from Oklahoma has really given the US a huge boost.

He was undrafted in 2021 although Wikipedia says something very interesting that we’ve never seen before: “Reaves went undrafted in the 2021 NBA draft after declining to be selected 42nd overall by the Detroit Pistons, opting instead to sign a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on August 3, 2021.“

That’s our emphasis to be clear. How do you do that exactly? Can anyone decline to be drafted?

We won’t get into every team that missed on him, but here are a few that could have used him: Orlando, Golden State, San Antonio, New York (sorry, Steven A.!), Boston and Philadelphia all whiffed. Too bad. Maybe they can catch him later in free agency, but it’ll cost them.

In other Tuesday finals, France finally won, but barely, beating Lebanon 85-79 for a parting gift. Australia took out Japan 109-89 and Canada rolled again, 101-75.

The Canadians have been just as dominant as the US has and they too move on to the second round.

Somewhat quietly, always dangerous Lithuania is now 3-0 with a win over Montenegro.

Duke’s influence on the tournament is not limited to the US, Canada and Australia, which translates to managing director Grant Hill, assistant coach Chip Engelland and players Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero for the US, RJ Barrett for Canada, and Jack White for Australia.

Former Blue Devil Luol Deng is South Sudan basketball federation president and he has a rising star on his squad in 7-2 and 16-year-old Khaman Maluach, who, coincidentally, is now a Duke target.

He’s the third-youngest player ever in World Cup play. Maluach has 9-5 standing reach, which is crazy, and is said to be quite agile. Bright future indeed.