Kemba Walker Leads USA to Win vs. Australia in 2019 FIBA World Cup Exhibition

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: Jayson Tatum of the USA controls the ball during the International Basketball Friendly match between the Australian Boomers and Team USA United States of America at Marvel Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

In their second of four exhibition tuneup games prior to the FIBA World Cup, the United States men's national basketball team defeated Australia 102-86 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday.

After a nip-and-tuck first half that saw Team USA enter the locker room with only a one-point lead, the Americans pulled away during a 32-18 third quarter and never looked back.

While Team USA's lack of star power has been talked about ad nauseam as several top players withdrew their names from consideration for the FIBA World Cup, the United States' balance was on full display during Thursday's win.

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (23 points and six rebounds), Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (15 points and 14 rebounds), Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (13 points), Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (12 points), Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (11 points) and Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (11 points) all scored in double figures for the Americans.

Australia was without Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, who pulled out of the FIBA World Cup, but it still combated Team USA with its fair share of NBA players.

San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova, Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes and former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut all received ample playing time for the Boomers.

Mills and Chris Goulding of the National Basketball League's Melbourne United were the top performers for Australia from a scoring perspective with 19 points apiece, while both Dellavedova and Jock Landale added 10.

Both teams shot well from beyond the arc, as the Americans made 43 percent of their attempts and Australia nailed 41 percent. Team USA's three-point prowess played a significant role in the victory.

Kuzma knocked down four of his five attempts from deep, including this make during a close first quarter:


Kuz is HOT. 🔥 He's 3/3 from behind the arc for the #USABMNT in Melbourne! @FIBAWC https://t.co/tS2rXPzgvz

The triples were going down fast and furious in the Americans' high-scoring third quarter as well, and Mitchell made his only trifecta of the game during that stretch:


Donovan Mitchell (11 PTS) drains the triple for the #USABMNT! Catch the @FIBAWC prep action NOW on NBA TV! 📺 https://t.co/BS7jcLJQEd

Also, despite the fact that Australia has some experienced bigs in Bogut and Baynes, they were victimized in the paint from a scoring and rebounding perspective.

Turner led the way in that regard, and he also showed off his range. That versatility promises to make him Team USA's top big during the FIBA World Cup:


.@Original_Turner (15 PTS, 14 REB) is putting in work for the #USABMNT! 💪 @FIBAWC https://t.co/Wux6rs7moV

The Americans also had a significant advantage over the Aussies in speed and athleticism, which allowed them to score some easy buckets in transition.

None was more dazzling than the alley-oop connection between Celtics teammates Tatum and Brown in the fourth quarter:


Go up and get it, @FCHWPO! 😱🔨 #USABMNT | @FIBAWC https://t.co/WX7PTWIFt1

Team USA went to Australia with 13 players battling for 12 roster spots, and there may have been some clues from Thursday's game regarding who could get cut.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart did not play because of a left calf injury, while Spurs guard Derrick White saw only two minutes, 30 seconds of action, which was the least on the team by nearly four minutes.

The only other players to see the floor for less than 10 minutes were Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (6:11) and Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee (9:39), but their spots on the roster may be safe since head coach Gregg Popovich will need depth behind Turner.

Team USA has two more exhibition games in Australia to sort out its roster situation, and the next comes against Australia once again at midnight ET on Saturday.