U.S. forward Mikal Bridges (5) recovers the ball in front of Greece guard Giannoulis Larentzakis (5) during the first half of a Basketball World Cup group C match in Manila, Philippines Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
MANILA, Philippines — Austin Reaves scored 15 points and the U.S. topped Greece 109-81 on Monday to clinch a berth in the second round of the Basketball World Cup.
Jalen Brunson and Anthony Edwards each scored 13 for the Americans (2-0), who haven’t lost in seven games overall this summer. Brunson made all five of his shots, Bobby Portis had 10 points and Josh Hart grabbed 11 rebounds for the winners.
The win, combined with New Zealand’s 95-87 overtime victory over Jordan earlier Monday, clinched a second-round berth for the Americans. They’ll finish group play against Jordan on Wednesday, then play Lithuania and Montenegro — in some order — on Friday and Sunday.
Georgios Papagiannis led Greece (1-1) with 17 points.
Getting to the second round isn’t exactly a surprise for the U.S., the current tournament favorites and a team seeking a sixth World Cup gold medal. There was no real gold-medal contender in Group C along with the U.S., and the Americans followed up a 27-point win over New Zealand in Saturday’s opener with a 28-point victory that was never in doubt Monday.
Greece is playing this summer without its best player, two-time NBA MVP and 2021 NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. He said he needed more time to recover from offseason knee surgery.
Without Giannis, Greece went to Papagiannis instead.
The former lottery pick — taken No. 13 in the 2016 draft — played 39 games in the league with Sacramento and Portland, last appearing in the NBA in 2018. He provided a flash of what he could do, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, 15 in the half, and trying to keep Greece’s upset shot afloat.
It wasn’t anywhere near enough. The U.S. lead was 50-37 at the half, and the Americans pushed the margin out to 79-56 going into the final 10-minute period.
USA: Reaves also had six assists and five rebounds. … The Americans improved to 10-1 all-time in senior men’s national competition against Greece including exhibitions (like the one earlier this month in Abu Dhabi), and 5-1 when those games come in what is now called the World Cup. … A weird sequence: In the second quarter, Hart — who was seated on the court at the time — threw a bounce pass to Cam Johnson, who also was seated on the court at the time.
Greece: The winner of the Greece-New Zealand game on Wednesday goes to the second round. Both teams are 1-1. … Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ brother, missed two shots in a 14-second span of the first quarter — both blocked by Jaren Jackson Jr., the reigning NBA defensive player of the year. The first was a shot in the lane off a post-up; the other a dunk attempt in transition.
The U.S. made its first 22 free throws before a miss. The Americans finished the game 30 of 34 from the foul line.
Jordan cannot reach the second round, even if it beats the U.S. on Wednesday in the Group C finale for both squads.
USA: Faces Jordan on Wednesday in group-stage finale.
Greece: Faces New Zealand on Wednesday in group-stage finale.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is expanding its study of whether service members who worked with nuclear missiles have had unusually high rates of cancer after a preliminary review determined that a deeper examination is needed.
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