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Defending champion U.S. pockets opening win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

(Xinhua)    16:57, September 02, 2019

Lukas Palyza (L) of the Czech Republic greets the spectators after the group E match between the United States and the Czech Republic at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Shanghai, China, Sept. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Chen Fei)

SHANGHAI, Sept. 1 -- Team USA pocketed its first victory of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup as the defending champion beat the Czech Republic 88-67 in Group E here on Sunday.

"USA don't get comfortable!" Kobe Bryant's words in FIBA's promotional video went viral, and the young team played the first five minutes as if to pay a tribute to Mr. Bryant intentionally.

The Americans became obsessed with fruitless shot attempts after starting 7-2, and trailed 11-7 with more than three minutes without a goal from the field.

Coach Gregg Popovich displayed a tentative substitution pattern, putting 11 players on the floor in the first period alone. His trials gradually paid off as his team rallied from behind and led 17-14 as the first quarter ended.

The Czech team was contained as the Americans put more pressure on the ball in the second quarter. They found their rhythm through fast breaks and led in double digits for the first time 27-16. The game turned purely American style for the rest of time, but the Czech cagers also put on quite a show as their NBA player Tomas Satoransky put up a game-high 17 points.

"I have to say our opponent executed better than us in offense. They lost the game, but they should feel good about their effort and execution," said Popovich.

"It's always disappointing when you lose a game but I think this was against the best team in the world. Our game plan went well. Overall though, I am very satisfied with our game defensively and offensively. I hope it will give us confidence as we continue," said Czech Republic coach Ronen Ginzburg.

Team USA will compete against Turkey on Tuesday.


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(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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