Following Sunday’s tougher-than-expected test against Turkey, Team USA had a much easier time Tuesday, cruising to a 98-71 FIBA World Cup victory over New Zealand in Bilbao, Spain.
While it wasn’t a closely-contested matchup, New Zealand also played a scrappy brand of basketball and remained within striking distance in the opening period, as Team USA held a 27-20 lead after the first quarter, which featured Bulls point guard Derrick Rose entering the contest at the 4:05 mark and quickly knocking down a pull-up jumper from the elbow in transition, his lone field goal of the affair.
Rose started the second quarter and exited with 8:16 remaining before halftime — representing a departure from his usual run in the rotation, as the squad’s backup point guard usually begins each period on the bench — and helped maintain the up-tempo pace of the game, helping Team USA go into the intermission with a 57-35 advantage, again propelled by the interior duo of Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.
Playing with the first unit, Rose started the second half and while he looked to be more of a playmaker than a scorer, Team USA’s winning margin ballooned during his stint, which lasted until 3:43 was left in the third quarter, and heading into the final stanza, the Americans were ahead, 75-54.
Again paired up with the starters to open the fourth quarter, Rose’s quiet outing — the former league MVP finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting and two assists — continued until there was 5:27 on the clock, as the blowout continued and Team USA could turn its focus to Wednesday’s game against the Dominican Republic, the second of three contests in as many days.