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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Team USA basketball formula: Trusting everyone, collaboration

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US players Austin Reaves, Tyrese Haliburton and Bobby Portis having fun. FIBA

In only their second game in the FIBA World Cup, coach Steve Kerr and Team USA have adjusted well enough to dominate their opponents — showing better teamwork on defense and the even distribution of roles on offense, to go with the more effective use of manpower rotation, to name a few.

In short, everyone is trusted.

The result was an overwhelming 109-81 beating of Greece as the Americans cruised to their second straight win and put itself in a position to top Group C and advance to the Round of 16, with only winless Jordan standing next on its path.

“We find ways to get better every day,” said Kerr after the win on Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Just like Gilas Pilipinas, Kerr and his young bunch of NBA players only had three weeks of preparation for this global basketball show co-hosted by the Philippines with Japan and Indonesia.

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And this is where brilliant coaching comes into the fore.

Foremost, Kerr said he has the full trust and belief in his players and coaches.

He distributes the playing time evenly, because “what we have here are not just NBA players, but 12 great NBA players and we’re playing as a versatile group.”

The most exposure to any player on the USA side was given to Tyrese Haliburton, who played 21.01 minutes and contributed 9 points on top of 2 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and 3 shotblocks.

Austin Reaves, who saw action for 15 minutes, top-scored for 15 points, while three other Americans contributed in double figures.

Back-up center Walker Kessler had the least playing time with 5 minutes and 46 seconds and contributed four points.

On the coaching side, Kerr emphasized the “we” instead of the “I” as he showered his top-notch assistant coaches Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat, Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers and multi-awarded US collegiate coach Mark Few of Gonzaga University praises.

Kerr said each coach was assigned a team to scout. Few was assigned against New Zealand, which the US beat on Friday’s opener, 99-72. Lue did the scouting on Greece, while it will be Spoelstra’s turn against Jordan next.

“All three guys are amazing basketball coaches, and they see every detail and they really put game-plans together and we collaborate as a staff using all of the knowledge these guys are bringing through their scouting reports,” Kerr said.

To show how Kerr values the input of his co-coaches when the USA trailed New Zealand by 10 early in the first quarter on Friday, the Team USA coaching staff made a huddle to plan their next moves.

And the Americans put on a show of effective basketball the rest of the way.

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