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Austin Reaves guides Team USA to an impressive 99-72 triumph in their inaugural FIBA World Cup match against New Zealand.

Austin Reaves, the promising Lakers player, receives an enthusiastic welcome each time he sets foot on the court. Wearing the United States jersey, he continues to validate the admiration he garners, especially after emerging as the standout performer for his country in the opening game of the international tournament this weekend.

By the game’s conclusion, Reaves demonstrates consistency across all facets of play, contributing 12 points, distributing 6 assists, and securing 3 steals. Yet, his most impactful contribution comes in the form of his plus/minus rating, which significantly influences the game’s flow with a plus-19 effect.

These are the kinds of reactions the 25-year-old is experiencing in the Philippines, where Team USA is set to compete in their first three group stage matches. In a notable moment during the match, Reaves sinks a three-pointer that prompts a thunderous eruption from the capacity crowd at the Mall of Asia. His celebration includes his iconic “ice in my veins” pose.

Reflecting on his journey, Reaves shares, “I was one of those kids watching the World Cup [and] the Olympics, so every day I wake up and cherish those moments. I’m from a super small town, and not a lot of people expected me to be here representing our country. So for the crowds to accept me the way that they accept me, it means a lot to me.”

Austin Reaves guides Team USA to an impressive 99-72 triumph in their inaugural FIBA World Cup match against New Zealand

Alongside Reaves, other players also earn recognition for their impressive displays over the weekend. Magic forward Paolo Banchero finishes with a remarkable 21 points, while Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, with a plus-13 rating and 10 points, makes a significant impact off the bench. Their performances rescue the Team USA starters from a lackluster first quarter.

Banchero remarks, “I think those are my first 3s I’ve hit since I’ve been playing with the team. We pride ourselves on, when we come in, pushing the pace, and if we’re starting flat, we got to be able to pick it up.”

Head coach Steve Kerr is particularly impressed with the team’s ability to rebound after a sluggish start to the game. Despite New Zealand’s early surge, which gives them a 10-point lead in the first quarter, Team USA showcases resilience by responding to the challenge. Kerr emphasizes, “New Zealand was great. They came out and were very physical right away and took it to us, and we need to feel that because that’s what these games are going be like. But I love the way we responded.”

The highlights from the match on Saturday underscore Team USA’s ability to regain control during the second quarter.

“We just came out lackadaisical,” acknowledges star Anthony Edwards, echoing his coach’s sentiment. “You got to come out with a little more energy and ready to go.”

At one point during the game, an imposter dressed in a replica of New Zealand’s black-and-white uniform manages to gain access to the floor, causing a distraction. Apparently, this individual is a well-known social media influencer seeking to execute a prank and managed to evade security.

Haliburton asserts, “We can’t use that as an excuse. We just got to be prepared. We have to be ready, prepared going into the games and respect every opponent.”

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MLS Football Jersey