Expectations are high for Team USA going into this year’s FIBA World Cup, and on Monday, players like Austin Reaves and Tyrese Haliburton showed why.
The squad took care of business against Puerto Rico in an exhibition game, winning 117-74. Reaves and Haliburton both came off the bench, but their impact as a duo was obvious.
“I think it’s really just playing basketball,” Reaves said. “You got guys like [Haliburton], and he knows how to play the game. It makes it a lot easier for you. So it’s really just about making the right play.”
In 19 minutes, Reaves dropped nine points, four rebounds and four assists while shooting 4-for-9 from the field.
Austin Reaves checks in and immediately swishes a 3 😮 pic.twitter.com/oVa9dVy5kU
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) August 8, 2023
Haliburton, meanwhile, had a very efficient night, scoring seven points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field and, more notably, dishing out 12 assists with just one turnover. He also had four boards.
Reaves and Haliburton are two rising stars in the NBA world, and this summer, they get the unique experience of being teammates.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard is about to enter his third NBA season. In the 2022-23 campaign, he established himself as a huge key to L.A.’s success, averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on 52.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.8 percent shooting from deep. He was rewarded with a major contract extension this offseason.
Haliburton also had a big 2022-23 campaign in his first full season with the Indiana Pacers. He averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from deep. The 23-year-old earned his first All-Star selection in the process.
The FIBA World Cup should give both players opportunities to grow and get back into playing mode as the start of the 2023-24 NBA season comes into focus. Once the season gets here, it’ll be back to business for the two guards as opponents, but until then, it’s all about chasing a crown for Team USA.
The tournament will officially begin on Aug. 25. If Team USA can keep playing like it did on Monday, the squad should have an easy path to the championship. Players like Anthony Edwards, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Ingram and several others are going to be key pieces along the way.