MANILA, Philippines — Anthony Edwards scored 32 fewer points on Tuesday — three — in Team USA’s 100-63 World Cup quarterfinal victory over Italy than he did in the loss to Lithuania two days earlier. But his teammates said he was one of the most enthusiastic players in the locker room after the game.

Several times, Mickal Bridges, who was the MVP of the game with 24 points and seven rebounds, used questions about his performance to deflect and debate Edwards. So did Coach Steve Kerr.

“Anthony Edwards was moving the ball around early on,” Kerr said. “It was infectious.” “Then it becomes fun, and it doesn’t matter who scores and who gets the stats, it’s just about the team.”

When Team USA plays, there are always multiple paths going on. The championship they are trying to win, of course. Then there is the question of who the players are building close relationships with, because that often leads to teaming up later in the NBA.

(At this point this year, it’s easy. The Villanova guys – Jalen Bronson, Josh Hart and Bridges – are friends, and the so-called ‘twin’, Cameron Johnson and Bridges. Then everyone loves the quiet Edwards. And Austin Reeves, who came to this not knowing Anyone in the team and he won everyone’s admiration with his play and personality).

Then there’s the potential jump to watch: Which players are using this challenge as a stepping stone to superstardom?

It’s been phenomenal for LeBron James and Kevin Durant building their confidence and solidifying their drive as winners. Jason Tatum and Devin Booker have had a bounce after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, too.

The USA want to win two more games, but this is shaping up to be an Edwards moment. People on the team and in his life in the NBA know that. His agent, Bill Duffy, arrived in Manila with Minnesota Timberwolves president Tim Connelly.

Looking ahead, Tuesday appears to be a big day for Edwards. His scoring is sorely needed and there are times when he needs to rely on his talent to make it happen. But after losing to Lithuania when he scored an impressive 35 points and 16 more shots than anyone else in the team, there was perhaps an inward focus on his involvement with the ball more.

He only had three assists but moved the ball around and played aggressive defense, especially when the USA went into a half-court trap that totally spoiled the Italians. Edwards took six shots, making one. And according to his teammates, it was a big night for him.

“The ants can easily get 30 of what they want,” Bridges said. “Just to be so selfless, you know, we talk to him and try to help him just find guys and that’s what he did. And he’s probably the happiest guy in the locker room right now… I think we’re kind of that, once we saw Ant do that and how happy he was and he was Everyone feels this happy too.

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Halliburton does a fake jump, and passes between his legs to Banshiro

Tyrese Halliburton collects the loose ball and throws it with a cent between the legs to Paolo Panchero for an easy dunk.

More takeaways from Team USA’s win over Italy

• Italy coach Gianmarco Bouzico was a bit nervous about having to play the USA on Tuesday. And his team achieved a big victory over Serbia last week, which not only qualified them for the quarter-finals, but also confirmed that they would top Group Nine.

Italy reached the quarter-finals as the higher “seeded” than the United States and, as group winners, were the home team. But because the Americans lost to Lithuania, they finished second in their group, and Italy’s reward for winning their group was a date with the tournament favorites.

“My players didn’t deserve to play against America because we were in first place in our group,” said Bouzeko. “You have to be a bit lucky. I think we did everything we could in our group… maybe we deserve a little bit better, we deserve to go through the quarter-finals”.

He likened the Italians to “a bird that can’t fly,” but he didn’t translate. If it weren’t for the USA, the Italians would have faced Lithuania and were probably the underdog in that match. But they won’t be able to play for a medal now.

It’s a World Cup quarter-final, and after all, it’s not supposed to be a farewell.

• Paolo Panchero got some boos from the Italian fans when he was introduced before the match. Like Bouzecco, Panchero had to feel a little uncomfortable when this match fell into place after he backtracked on his intention to play for Italy to join Team USA earlier this summer.

He showed no emotion until he threw a dunk off a great ball by Tyrese Halliburton at the end of the third quarter. Then he let out a roar. It didn’t seem to affect him, as he played well off the bench with 8 points, 5 rebounds and two steals.

After the match, though he didn’t really like his tone, he tried to say he enjoyed being embarrassed.

“It was great. It was great,” Banchero said. “Just to get out there. I’ve noticed some of the coaches, some of the players, so just getting out there and competing with them has been great.”

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