Austin Reaves on big shot for Team USA vs. Montenegro: ‘Anybody on our team expects me to take and make that shot’

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Austin Reaves continued his stellar play at the 2023 FIBA World Cup on Friday, with the Los Angeles Lakers star hitting a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to help Team USA defeat underdog Montenegro 85-73.

With the Americans leading just 72-68 in the fourth quarter, Reaves extended the lead to 75-68 with his shot with 2:44 remaining.

“It’s one of those plays if it goes in, I look good,” Reaves said. “If it doesn’t, everybody’s looking at me sideways. It’s basketball, and anybody on our team expects me to take and make that shot. … It was a good feeling.”

The 25-year-old later made two free throws and finished the game with 12 points, second on the U.S. team behind Anthony Edwards’ 17 points.

Team USA trailed Montenegro, a 26.5-point underdog, by one point at halftime (39-38). Reaves played just under 25 minutes off the bench and made nine of 11 free-throw attempts. The 3-pointer was his only made field goal in two attempts.

The University of Oklahoma product has been a vital player for Team USA during the tournament, helping it to four wins without a loss. He is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game playing 20.9 minutes per contest.

Reaves set the tone for the tournament right away with a standout performance against New Zealand in the Americans’ opening game.

It’s a continuation of his standout play during the 2022-23 NBA season, when he emerged as arguably the Lakers’ third-best player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He helped them rally late in the regular season and then all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.

He averaged 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game during the 2023 playoffs and was rewarded with a four-year contract worth about $54 million to re-sign with the Lakers as a restricted free agent, with much more money possibly available elsewhere.

It was one of the key offseason moves for the Lakers, who also re-signed Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell and added Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince and Jaxson Hayes.

Entering his third NBA campaign, Reaves is determined to help the Lakers eventually bring another title back to Los Angeles, which reportedly includes his working with strength and conditioning coaches to take on a bigger role.

But first, the very popular player among World Cup fans in the Philippines will continue to try to do whatever he can to help Team USA win the championship.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.