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    Monday, December 11, 2023

    USA men roll past Jordan in Basketball World Cup and starts second round on Friday

    U.S. forward Bobby Portis Jr. (9) gets a dunk against Jordan during the second half of a Basketball World Cup group C match in Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. The United States defeated Jordan 110-62. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Manila, Philippines — Another game, another blowout for the U.S. at the Basketball World Cup. And now the competition figures to get considerably tougher.

    Anthony Edwards scored 22 points and the Americans completed an easy march through the group stage Wednesday, beating Jordan 110-62 to improve to 3-0 and finish atop Group C. Second-round play for the U.S. starts Friday against Montenegro.

    “Staying aggressive, staying confident, it’s just something that I do,” Edwards said. “It paid off today.”

    Bobby Portis scored 13 for the U.S., which led by 19 after one quarter and 62-33 at the half. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 12 and Jalen Brunson added 10.

    “It’s always fun when everybody gets to play and contribute,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said.

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — the only player with any NBA experience on Jordan's roster — led his team with 20 points and seven rebounds. Jordan finished group play 0-3 and will play in the classification round for non-second-round teams starting Thursday.

    “We tried our best,” Jordan's Ahmad Hammouri said. “We fought. It was a really good experience for me and the guys. We just tried to have fun out there.”

    The U.S. improved to 8-0 overall this summer, counting five exhibitions played on the way to Manila. They’re one of three teams that won all three group-stage games by at least 20 points — joining Group H winner Canada and Group D winner Lithuania, which will face the Americans in the second-round finale on Sunday.

    This one was the easiest of the three for the U.S., which beat New Zealand by 27 in its opener and Greece by 28 on Monday.

    “We tried to slow them down as much as possible,” Jordan coach Wesam Al-Sous said. “We failed. They scored 110 points.”

    Much of that was because of Edwards, who had 13 points in the first quarter when the seeds for the blowout were being planted. He was up to 18 by halftime, plus set a tone with his on-ball defense and the Americans were never even mildly threatened.

    “Pressure? No, not at all,” Edwards said. “I love the game of basketball. It's fun for me. I go out there and do what I love and I put in the work every day, so it's no pressure — at all.”

    Hollis-Jefferson has tried to fashion his game — not to mention his current haircut, it seems, since there is a striking similarity — after Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, even wearing No. 24 on his jersey for Jordan this summer.

    If this was his audition to get back to the NBA, after not playing in the league since June 2021, it wasn't bad. He had 66 points in Jordan's first two games at the World Cup, then shot 6 for 16 on Wednesday — while again getting the occasional “Kobe! Kobe!" chants from some in the crowd in Manila.

    Hollis-Jefferson spent a short stint with Edwards and Minnesota before the start of the 2020-21 season. Hollis-Jefferson never played a real game with the Timberwolves, but Edwards remembered their time together.

    “He was kind of like my vet when I was a rookie,” Edwards said. “We haven't seen each other since then, so it was fun to catch up.”

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