Jayson Tatum dribbling during an international friendly match against Canada on Aug. 26, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
Let a new winning streak begin.
Two days after suffering its first loss since 2006, the U.S. men’s basketball team bounced back with an 84-68 win over Canada in its final exhibition game before it opens FIBA World Cup play in China on Sept. 1.
Playing at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, the United States started Kemba Walker, Myles Turner, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Harrison Barnes for Monday’s final tune-up. They came out firing, opening on an 11-2 run and ending the first quarter with a 20-9 lead. By halftime the lead sat at 46-31.
Jaylen Brown led the team in scoring with 19 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting from the field after heating up in the second half. Mitchell, who was captain for the game, and Walker each contributed 12 points and Turner chipped in 10 points and a team-leading 15 rebounds.
“We’ve got a lot of room for growth and it’s going to be good when it comes all together but we have to keep working,” Brown said in a post-game interview posted to Twitter. “The sky’s the limit, we just have to be able to lock in and believe in each other.”
The U.S. played a pair of games against Australia in the past week, beating them 102-86 and then having a 78-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, 98-94.
The Americans open World Cup play in Shanghai against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1, then take on Turkey on Sept. 3 and Japan on Sept. 5. The top two teams from each preliminary group then move on to the second round.
The final 12-man roster for the tournament includes Monday’s starting five plus Brown, Joe Harris, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Mason Plumlee, Marcus Smart and Derrick White. The U.S. has won the last two World Cups and five overall. If Team USA finishes the tournament as one of the top two teams from the Americas, it will qualify directly to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.