Gregg Popovich's Team USA knew it would face a strong challenge against Greece with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but the Americans held on for a 69-53 win Saturday to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals next week.
Greece got off to an early lead, but it didn't take long for the U.S. to pull away and take control of the game by figuring out how to contain the NBA MVP. Antetokounmpo finished the first half shooting 4 of 8 from the field, while his team was held to 26% shooting. Team USA entered halftime with a 39-25 lead and came out even stronger in the second.
Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell once again led the U.S., with Walker scoring 15 points and Donovan Mitchell adding 10. Jaylen Brown also made an impact, scoring eight points over the first 11 minutes to help Team USA build a 22-20 lead before the Americans broke open the game.
Antetokounmpo was expected to be a big threat to the Americans as he played relatively light minutes throughout the early stage of the tournament. Antetokounmpo tied Walker for high-scoring honors, getting his 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. But Greece's overall poor shooting prevented it from being able to close the Americans' gap.
Greece did come within 11 points with just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter while Antetokounmpo was on the bench. Walker responded with two powerful rebounds to stop a late comeback.
With the win, the Americans will automatically advance to the quarterfinals next week. They first face Brazil on Monday to close out the second round of the tournament.