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FIBA World Cup Day 8: Ant Leads USA to Victory; KAT Dominates in a Dominican Loss

Anthony Edwards led the United States to another win with 17 second-half points, while Karl-Anthony Towns had a stellar 39 points for the Dominican Republic.

USA v Montenegro: Group J - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

The second-round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup began Friday with four Minnesota Timberwolves players, Anthony Edwards (United States), Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada), and Matteo Spagnolo (Italy), all in action.

Let’s take a look at how each of the Timberwolves players looked on Day 8 of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

USA v Montenegro: Group J - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Ariana Saigh/Getty Images

Anthony Edwards (United States)

On Friday, Anthony Edwards and the United States looked to stay unbeaten as they opened up second-round play against Nikola Vucevic and Montenegro.

Ant started off the game slowly scoring zero points in the first half, missing all five of his first-half shots from the field. The USA as a team struggled as a whole, as they went into halftime losing by one point.

Ant broke out of the shooting slump coming out of the halftime locker room, scoring 17 points on 7/11 shooting, mixing in a 3-pointer and two made free throws.

Edwards did a great job not settling for tough shots when his shot wasn’t falling as he continued to attack the rim throughout the game. It is a good sign for the Timberwolves that Ant was able to turn around a bad shooting half, and not let a couple of misses deter him from scoring down the stretch.

Once Ant started to heat up, so did the United States team as they took the lead early in the third quarter and never looked back. The United States beat Montenegro 85-73, bringing them to 4-0 for the tournament.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point that this United States team seems to play best when Anthony Edwards is rolling. Despite not scoring at all in the first half, he still led all players in scoring.

The win over Montenegro cliched a spot in the Quarterfinals for Team USA. The next game for the United States comes on Sunday at 7:40 AM CT against New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valančiūnas and undefeated Lithuania.


Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic)

Karl-Anthony Towns had a phenomenal game for the Dominican Republic on Friday with 39 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

KAT, as he has throughout this World Cup, was not afraid to let it fly from 3-point range. He shot 4/11 from three in this game with a couple of them coming from way beyond the arc.

Not only did Towns have his 3-point shot working, but he also had many drives to the basket for layups and dunks, reminiscent of his 2021-22 season where he so often blew by slower defenders.

If Towns’ play in this FIBA World Cup is any indication of the type of player he will be this upcoming season, Wolves fans should expect to see the version of KAT that finished Third Team All-NBA in 2021-22, and not the one that looked a step slow after coming back from his calf injury.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the win, as the Dominican Republic fell to Puerto Rico 102-97. A tough loss, as the Dominican Republic had a lead as high as 13 in the second half.

With the loss, all four teams in Group I now sit with a record of 3-1. With two teams from each group moving on to the next round, it’ll come down to Dominican’s final game against Serbia to determine if they move on to the Quarterfinals. That game is on Sunday at 7:00 AM CT.

Canada v Dominican Republic - International Friendly Photo by Fermin Rodriguez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada)

Canada had a surprising loss to Brazil on Friday, going down 69-65, their first loss in this World Cup.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker continued to shoot a lot of threes, as he attempted eight of them, but only made one. NAW has shot great so far in the World Cup, so hopefully this is just a one-off poor shooting performance. Despite his poor shooting Alexander-Walker was able to lead Canada in assists with three.

Similar to Group I, every team in Group L now has a record of 3-1. Canada’s next game against Spain on Sunday at 8:30 AM CT will determine if Nickeil and Canada are able to move on the the Quarterfinals.

Matteo Spagnolo (Italy)

Matteo Spagnolo did not play for Italy as they beat Serbia 78-76 on Friday. This is Spagnolo’s second straight DNP after playing sparingly in Italy’s first two games.

Italy’s next game comes on Sunday at 3:00 AM CT against Puerto Rico. We will have to see if Spagnolo can crack the rotation, or if Italy continues to keep him on the bench and spread the minutes out to other players.