Reeves Los Angeles Lakers star Austin Reeves leads United States over Greece. FIBA photo

FIBA World Cup: US, Spain advance

August 29, 2023 Robert Andaya 325 views

SEVEN teams, led by five-time champions United States and defending champions Spain, have already booked their spots in the second round of the FIBA World Cup 2023 now being played in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

The United States defeated the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Greece, 109-81, in a highly-anticipated Group C showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City last Monday.

Over at the Jakarta Arena in Indonesia, Spain extended its streak of consecutive quarterfinals appearances to seven with a 96-78 win over Brazil in Group G.

The United States and Spains, winners of the last four World Cups, join already-qualified Canada, Latvia, Montenegro, Germany and Lithuania.

Los Angeles Lakers star Austin Reeves scattered 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 17 minutes to lead the United States, which improved to 2-0.

Anthony Edwards and Jalen Brunson added 13 points and Bobby Portis contributed 10 points for the Steve Kerr-mentored Americans, who also defeated New Zealand, 99-77 in the opener.

Five more Americans had at least eight points against Greece which debuted with a 92-71 victory over Jordan.

Also on Monday, Santiago Aldama scored 15 points and Willy Hernand Gomez added 14 points for Spain, which also won over Cote d’Ivoire, 94-64, in their opener.

Spain never finished outside the top 10 of a World Cup.

Earlier, Canada demolished Lebanon, 128-73, in Group H at the Jakarta Arena to reach the second round of the FIBA World Cup for the second time since 2002.

RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks finished with 17 points and eight other players also scored in double figures for the Canadians, who broke the record for most assists in a World Cup game with 44 dimes.

Canada outclassed France, 95-65, in their opener last Aug. 25.

Also making it to the round-of-16 following their second straight wins were Lithuania, which crushed Mexico, 96-66; and Montenegro, which defeated Egypt 89-74, both in Group D; Germany, which followed up its opening victory over Japan with a close 85-82 win over Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Australia in Group E; and Latvia, which shocked France, 88-86. in Group H.

Veteran center Jonas Valanciunas of the New Orleans Pelicans finished with a double double of 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead Lithuania, which reached the top 16 teams for fifth straight World Cup – and sixth time in six appearances.

The Lithuanians, who finished third in 2010 and fourth in 2014, also won over Egypt, 93-67, at the Mall of Asia Arena last Aug.25.

Montenegro, which rolled past Mexico 91-71 in their opener. secured their best-ever performance after taking 25th place in their debut in 2019.

Already eliminated are France, Finland, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Mexico.

The FIBA World Cup is being held from Aug. 25-Sept. 10.