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2019 FIBA World Cup: Team USA defeats Czech Republic in opening game

By Connor Grott
2019 FIBA World Cup: Team USA defeats Czech Republic in opening game
Team USA forward Harrison Barnes recorded 14 points in the Americans' first win of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Despite constant roster movement and revolving lineups, the Team USA men's basketball team rolled to an 88-67 win over the Czech Republic to open play in the 2019 FIBA World Cup on Sunday in Shanghai, China.

Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell paced the U.S. with 16 points. Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes scored 14 points, and Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker notched 13 points and four assists.

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Celtics star Jayson Tatum added 10 points as the Americans (1-0) raced to a 43-29 halftime lead.

"It was a very competitive game, physical, opportunity to learn a lot," Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. "The game is a little bit different, obviously, from the NBA. A lot of great teams and just an opportunity to get better. That's the way we look at each of these games, to try and be the best team we can be, and we've got a ways to go, but we're willing."

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Team USA's aggressive defense forced 15 turnovers by the Czech Republic and converted them into 22 points. The Americans committed only seven turnovers in the contest.

"I thought defensively, we were great," Walker said. "Whenever we slowed down our pace, we were much better. Overall, I think we played really well. We played together. We played for each other. That's what is most important."

Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky led the Czech Republic (0-1) with a game-high 17 points and five assists.

The U.S. will play Turkey on Sept. 3 and Japan on Sept. 5.

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