Donovan Mitchell and Joe Harris high five during their game against Japan at the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Sept. 5, 2019 in Shanghai, China.
The U.S. men’s basketball team capped off the first round of the FIBA World Cup with a perfect 3-0 record following Thursday’s 98-45 rout of Japan in Shanghai.
Team USA was already guaranteed a spot in the second round before the game even started following Group E wins over the Czech Republic and Turkey, but Thursday’s lopsided victory was a nice reprieve from Tuesday's nail-biting overtime win against a Turkish team threatening an upset.
The U.S. outscored Japan 21-9 in the first quarter after a 13-0 run to start the game, with nine of the 10 players already registering points on the scoresheet. Shooting just a hair under 50 percent for the half, Team USA went into the break leading 56-23.
The lead only grew from there, as the U.S. ended the game having made 48 percent of its shots and outrebounded Japan 58-33.
Five U.S. players ended the game in double-digit scoring, led by wing Jaylen Brown with 20. His future Boston Celtics teammate Kemba Walker added 15 points and a team-high eight assists, while Indiana Pacers’ center Myles Turner grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
In three games, the U.S. had three different leading scorers, with Donovan Mitchell and Khris Middleton leading the way in the first two games.
The top-ranked U.S. team is now five wins shy of claiming its third consecutive World Cup title, which would be a first for any team in the event. Along the way, Team USA could lock up a berth for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 should it finish among the top two teams from the Americas.
Next up for the U.S. are second-round games against the top two teams from Group F. That begins Saturday against reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece, followed by a game against Brazil on Monday. The Czech Republic rounds out the second-round group, though the U.S. and Czech Republic do not play again.
With first-round results carrying over into the second-round standings, the top two teams from each second-round group move on to the quarterfinals. Should Team USA move on, its quarterfinal game would be Sept. 11.