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FIBA World Cup Day 2: Anthony Edwards and Team USA Start Strong

Anthony Edwards helped tournament favorites USA over New Zealand with a double-digit effort, while Kyle Anderson and China got routed by Serbia.

2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men’s National Team v New Zealand Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Following a very successful Day 1 of action in the World Cup that saw Karl-Anthony Towns dominate for the Dominican Republic and Nickeil Alexander-Walker help push Team Canada over Rudy Gobert and France, Day 2 wasn't as exciting as we saw two blowout games between China and Serbia, and the United States and New Zealand.

Despite the eventual lopsided scores, being able to watch Anthony Edwards (USA) and Kyle Anderson (China) hoop at a high level in late August can’t be a bad thing, especially when both of them continue to stay healthy.

Serbia v China: Group B - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Kyle Anderson (China)

Anderson, whose Chinese name is Lǐ Kǎiěr, kicked off Day 2 bright and early as Team China made their 2023 FIBA World Cup debut against Team Serbia with tip-off at 7:00 a.m. CT. The level of NBA talent on these World Cup rosters is a good measure of how well that team will perform. Aside from Anderson, China’s roster doesn't feature many current or former NBA players. 7-foot-1 center Zhou Qi is the only member of the team who has NBA experience that comes to my mind, as he was a part of the Houston Rockets from 2017 to 2019.

This lack of NBA talent came to light as China fell 105-63 to Serbia.

It was a rough World Cup debut for Slow-Mo, as he finished with 0 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists on 0-for-9 from the floor in 25 minutes played. He was a team-low -35.

China’s game was pretty much over at halftime, as they found themselves in a 55-34 hole. Due to the lack of star power on China’s roster, I was hoping to see Kǎiěr shoulder some of the offensive load. In the NBA, Anderson is one to let the game come to him and find his teammates before looking for his own shot. He did the exact same thing for China on Saturday morning. The 0-for-9 split from the floor looks bad, but we also have to give credit to Serbia — they were able to command both sides of the floor and force China into some poor shots.

With how deep some of the World Cup rosters are this year, I don’t have high expectations for China. However, they will have a chance to get on the right path and pick up their first WC win on Monday against South Sudan. Tipoff for that game will be at 3:00 a.m. CT, with streaming available on courtside1891, ESPN China, and ESPN+, should you actually want to get up that early/stay up that late to catch it.


2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men’s National Team v New Zealand Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Anthony Edwards (United States)

Team USA is one of the most talked about teams heading into the World Cup, especially amongst the American crowd. Following a 5-0 preliminary game stretch, the United States opened their official World Cup campaign against Team New Zealand.

The U.S. got off to a shaky start, as they quickly found themselves in a 14-5 hole. There were some obvious nerves running through the roster with four quick turnovers, two of which Edwards committed.

The actual World Cup is much different than the tune-up games, so having some trouble finding a groove was somewhat expected. That slow start didn’t last long, though; the USA ended the first quarter on a 14-5 run and took a one-point lead into the second quarter.

That run was powered by USA’s bench mob, and up until that point, Edwards had yet to get going offensively, as he had just two points after the first quarter. However, as the game went on and the Americans got their feet under them, Ant started to do what he does best — score in bunches.

Edwards didn’t take the game by the horns and run away like we’ve been accustomed to seeing from him this summer, but he was still crucial in helping the United States build a large, insurmountable lead.

Even though he wasn’t his team's leading scorer on Saturday, it is obvious — Ant shoulders most, if not all, of the United States’ offensive pressure. When his team is in most need of a bucket, you can count on Ant to hit a step-back triple, spin jumper in the mid-range, or attack the paint for a coined Ant 1.

Ant and Team USA’s next World Cup game will be Monday at 7:40 a.m. CT against Greece. Streaming will be exclusively available on ESPN2.