MANILA, Philippines – It was a lot different for the Americans on Tuesday in the FIBA ​​World Cup quarter-finals than their previous matchup, going beyond the final score.

There was, for the first time, a fast start against a great opponent. There was also, almost shockingly, a strong rebounding advantage for Team USA after being outplayed over the weekend to the point of embarrassment.

The American players – some admitted and some not – played with a certain advantage, an arrogance against Italy not seen against Lithuania on Sunday or indeed against any previous opponent this summer.

Of all the notable and important changes Team USA made in their 100-63 thrashing of Italy in Manila, perhaps the most significant was the conversation between the rest of the players and Anthony Edwards, the team’s leading scorer this World Cup season.

Edwards followed up his 35-point game Sunday with three points on 1-of-6 shooting, but added three assists and made sure the ball moved so other players could touch it.

The difference was huge, Michal Bridges said, and by listening to him speak, Bridges made it seem as though Edwards’ turnaround in the Italy game enabled all the other positive changes that emerged from this lopsided win.

Let’s see if they can all now repeat this behavior during the last two games of the FIBA ​​World Cup.

“Ants can easily get 30 whatever they want,” said Bridges, who benefited more from Edwards’ generosity by as much as 24 points. “We talked to him and tried to help him just find guys, which he did. He’s probably the happiest guy in the dressing room right now.

“So, you know, he yelled to Ant about it knowing how dominant he was. … I think we kind of fed off of that, you know, once we saw Ant do it and how happy he was, and everybody was feeling that happy too.

The Americans went so far as to avenge their first loss of the summer two days ago against the tournament-eliminated Lithuania. (More on that soon.)

The Americans were the superior athletes with much stronger basketball skills than the Italians. They pressed their advantage once the pre-match strobe light show ended, the 12 Italian fans in the corner booed Paolo Panchero and the ball went first into the sky. It was the exact opposite of every match they played against any worthy opponent.

Team USA will play the winner of the Germany-Latvia match on Friday in the World Cup semi-finals (8:40 a.m. ET). The Americans have officially finished seventh in the 2019 Cup, with only two wins left for their sixth World Series. The program is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist.

“It’s been a five-week trip for this group, and there are five more days,” said USA coach Steve Kerr. “That’s how we look at it. So we the horse comes back to the corral, and the horse starts picking up his speed when he feels he’s close to the corral. And that’s what’s happening now. Our men feel it’s the end of the ride and the energy has gained for the night and pace and strength.

Bridges – who shoots 8-of-11 from the field – made four of the USA’s 17 3’s and also collected seven rebounds. He was even dealt a technical blow for taunting the Italian bench after he dropped a three-pointer in the third quarter.

Not all bad considering the Lithuanian got away with sticking his tongue out at Austin Reeves in Sunday’s game.

“(We played) with more anger,” said Tyrese Halliburton, who scored 18 points with five assists. “Absolutely, I’m obviously angry at the loss and I don’t want to feel that way again.”

Reeves added 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Bobby Portis matched Bridges’ seven boards with seven of his own. And after Lithuania came off the bench on Sunday, the US reserves beat Italy’s 57-20.

Lithuania and Montenegro outscored the USA last weekend 92-58, so yes, as one might imagine, the Americans sought to rectify that against an Italian team that wasn’t as burly or tall as the two previous opponents.

“I’ve been really into bouncing and that’s kind of a struggle I’m having throughout this whole process and what I’m having in general,” said Bridges, when asked about being the top-scoring man. The USA built a 51-33 edge on the glass.

The Italian Simone Fonticchio of the Utah Jazz scored 18 points. The moves made by the Italians did not fool the US defenders without the ball, and they were left to lift 3 seconds at a hopeless rate (7 out of 38 in the match).

As far as the game is concerned, in a 37-point blowout that’s never been so close, observers might pick a moment or two to highlight what the final score revealed. Just bear in mind that the consistent theme, often leading to the highlight, was the constant pressure on the ball and attention to detail, which thwarted not only Italy’s plays but any attempt to keep possession alive through counter-attacking.

In fact, the USA team committed more turnovers (19) than the Italians did (14), but the Americans scored 25 points from the turnovers they created. They added seven steals and six blocks.

“I just wanted to crank it up,” said Halliburton, who stole three times. “We understand that teams don’t lose on their own. They come here and as soon as you see the first couple to come in, everyone feels very confident. We saw that clearly against Lithuania. So, you just want to set the tone for the jump and then have them play at our pace because no one else plays.” At our speed.

The Americans allowed just 14 points in the first quarter and were ahead by 10 points when it ended—and the Reaves 3-pointer with 2:04 remaining was their fourth of the game.

In the second period, Panchero, who was committed to playing for Italy last fall, only to switch allegiances this summer (hence the boos from the small Italian unit before the game), picked up a pass from Edwards and shot it hard. Two hands to advance 20 points.

If this play did not turn the Italians away, perhaps this play did. Reaves seemed to come out of nowhere with 43 seconds left in the first half, jumping higher than he had jumped before, and hitting a missed shot.

“You tell me I’m a high jumper, so I’ll take that and run with him because he’s one of the most athletic guys that’s ever played the game, honestly,” Reeves said. “I told him I’m trying to be like him and I don’t know, I’ve got to go and have a look at it. If I can get to my left leg. I’ve had a bit of a bounce, but whatever else I’m struggling with.

Things got ridiculous by the time Halliburton, on a quick break, tossed a ball through his legs to Banchero in an alley. This made the USA 83-44 after three quarters.

“I think this loss woke us up,” Panchero said. “I’m not saying we’re going to beat any team in the semi-finals, but when we put that energy into defense, you know, it becomes difficult to deal with us. When we’re cool and let the teams run their course, situations like Lithuania happen. The guys get confident and get into the rhythm. So, if we can get the teams out of their rhythm, the attack will always be there.

Now, about the Lithuanians who obviously had a huge impact on the Americans by beating them. In the other quarter-finals on Tuesday, Serbia crushed Lithuania 87-68.

Well, the Lithuanians didn’t have the same charm they had against the United States. After starting Tuesday’s game 5-of-6-of-3 (remember, Lithuania made their first nine 3s on the Americans), the Lithuanians finished 9-of-28 from deep.

Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks led the Serbs with 21 points. They play the winners from Canada and Slovenia in the World Cup semi-finals on Friday. They’ve come this far without Nikola Jokic, arguably the best player in the world.

The Serbian side will also play the rest of their cup matches without Borisa Simanic, who underwent surgery to remove a kidney damaged in his midsection elbow during last week’s match against South Sudan.

Bogdanovic said the team heard from Simanic on Tuesday morning.

And he said, “Guys, I’m fine, don’t worry, let’s win tonight.” “And just for him to think of us, after everything that’s happened to him, he’s got us alone,” Bogdanovic said.

The quarter-final match between Germany and Latvia takes place on Wednesday at 4:45 AM ET, while the Canada-Slovenia match takes place at 8:40 AM ET.

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(Photo: Young Taek Lim/Getty Images)

(translatable tags) The NBA

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