‘He’s the guy’: Edwards leads USA past Germany

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — In a game that was terrific theater for a friendly and served as a terrific appetizer for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, Team USA completed a 5-0 exhibition record with a high-intensity 99-91 win over medal contender Germany on Sunday.

The U.S. trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half as Germany, which came in 4-1 in pre-World Cup play including a win over Canada, threw an effective game plan at them. But the Americans turned it into a chance to buckle down and show off their defensive mettle, holding Germany scoreless for six minutes in the fourth quarter while going on an 18-0 run.

Anthony Edwards, who has used these last three weeks to show off his potential as a leading man, was brilliant offensively and defensively. He fired in 34 points on 11-of-20 shooting and was part of the swarming defensive effort late that won the game.

Tyrese Haliburton served notice on his importance on the roster as he scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half and finished the game ahead of starter Jalen Brunson because of his defensive and playmaking prowess. Also finishing the game as a bench player was Austin Reaves, who has won over great compliments from teammates and coaches, as he scored 16 points.

After only showing minor flaws over their first four exhibition games, the Americans got some potentially useful lessons about their weak spots from a German game plan future opponents will likely attempt to mimic. Not every opposing country has a point guard like Dennis Schroder, who is one of those role players in the NBA who can morph into a beast in international play.

He went after the Americans with his speed, accelerating repeatedly at the point of attack and using pick-and-rolls to get past his defender and putting the help defense on its heels. Schroder, who signed with the Toronto Raptors this summer, had 16 points and 10 assists and repeatedly set up or created hockey assists for NBA player teammates Franz Wagner (17 points), Moe Wagner (14) and Daniel Theis (12).

Reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. had five blocked shots but often was left to chase when he or others were out of position.

Perhaps the Americans’ biggest challenge in the upcoming World Cup is size. They are fast and versatile but they are not big, either in height or bulk. Germany is — they start 6-10 Franz Wagner at small forward, 6-8 bruiser Theis at power forward, 7-footer Johannes Voightman at center and bring 6-11 Moritz Wagner off the bench.

This showed up repeatedly throughout the game as the Germans won the rebounding battle 46-35, and used offensive rebounds as a primary scoring weapon by winning second-chance points, 21-7. Germany threw a press and halfcourt traps at the U.S., which frequently had the effect of disrupting their offensive rhythm. That is something they could see again.

The Americans leave Monday for Manila and the World Cup, where they open Saturday against New Zealand.

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