SHANGHAI – (Staff Report from Field Level Media and Official News Release) – Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points and Harrison Barnes added 14 to lead Team USA to an 88-67 win over the Czech Republic in the opening game of the FIBA World Cup preliminary competition.
Boston Celtics teammates Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum combined for 20 points in the first half to help the United States take a 43-29 lead at halftime after a tight first quarter.
Walker finished with 13 points and Tatum with 10.
Tomas Satoransky of the Chicago Bulls led the Czechs in scoring with 17.
The Americans lack the star-studded roster of years past, but Team USA worked well together on Sunday, despite just five exhibition games as a group. One of those games was a four-point loss to Australia that snapped the Americans’ 78-game international win streak that dated back to 2006.
The U.S. held the Czech Republic to just a 40.6 shooting percentage, including 35 percent in the first half. The Americans shot 49.3 percent from the floor and were 10-of-26 from 3-point range — an improvement from the 2-for-14 performance in the final tune-up against Canada.
Coach Gregg Popovich rotated players in and out to keep them fresh, using 10 players in the first half.
The Americans will meet Turkey in the second of their three pool games on Tuesday night. Turkey, a winner over Japan in their opening-round game, features three NBA players: Cedi Osman, Ersan Ilyasova and Furkan Korkmaz.