Team USA got a tough 98-88 win against Spain in what was their hardest win yet. The score is deceiving because this game was closer than it the score looks. At one point late in the second half, Spain pulled ahead of Team USA and looked like they might be able to take control, but the talent of the US Men’s Basketball National Team was too much, and they were able to pull away.
In the first half, it was the play of Jalen Brunson on the offensive end with 16 first-half points that helped Team USA grow a lead. In the second half, Spain blitzed Team USA, especially in the third quarter, but it was the play of Austin Reaves in the second that played a big part in helping Team USA pull away.
There were times when things got out of hand for Team USA when they struggled to hold onto the ball, turnovers will be a problem for this team, and they’ll need to clean that up. Especially when a few weaknesses are starting to rear their head, such as a difficulty rebounding and being strong enough inside.
It was also clear that they have some defensive things to improve on. The calling card for this team is looking like its ability to clamp down defensively when they need to, then get buckets with their elite scorers on offense. But if the defense isn’t there, and they aren’t getting easy buckets? It could get scary late in the tournament. Tonight’s game showed a lack of dominance inside (even though Jaren Jackson Jr. has been awesome) that they’ll need to figure out. Will we see some additional lineups at some point? For now, Team USA seems more content to with big wings at every position over going with more size. Paolo Banchero has been playing some backup center and it works pretty well, but it does have some defensive liabilities. It’s a tightrope that Team USA is walking and we’ll see if they get better or if some of the things that held them back this game show up again.