It was a dominant team effort in a spot where the US men’s national team needed it most.
Team USA blasted Iran, 120-66, for its first win in pool play Tuesday, July 27 from the Saitama Super Arena.
“Everybody was themselves tonight,” guard Devin Booker said. “We got a feel for each other and encouraged each other to go out there and play [freely].”
It’s the first official win of pool play in this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“I think the first game nobody wanted to step on anybody’s toes and wanted to make sure everybody was involved,” Booker said. “Everybody came in with an aggressive mindset and it opened up a lot for each and every person.”
The team will look for win number two against the Czech Republic Saturday, July 31 from the Saitama Super Arena.
“At the end of the day we try to focus on what we’re doing in-house,” Booker said. “But games change game-to-game, personnel-wise so I think you have to have the gist and an idea of your opponent.”
It was a clean night of basketball for the men’s national team as it didn’t commit its first turnover until almost a minute and a half into the second quarter.
Team USA finished with six combined turnovers as a team.
On the other hand, the team forced Iran into 23 on the other end including six in the first quarter.
The intense defense and clean offense kept the Team USA offense in a consistent rhythm.
Every player on the team scored while 34 of the team’s 40 made field goals were assisted on with six players reaching double figures.
The solid team play allowed the team to build a lead as large as 33 points in the second quarter and it would balloon to 57 by the end of the game.
Guard Damian Lillard led all scorers with 21 points with seven made three pointers.
Iran made nine three-pointers as a team.
“It’s a dream come true,” Booker said when asked about teaming with Lillard on Team USA. “This is something that I’ve studied and I’ve watched before and what I said earlier, the chance to represent your country is the most prestigious thing in basketball.
“So it’s been an honor to grace the court with the talent that we have out there and not just the players, the coaching staff, training staff. It’s a great experience, I’m taking it all in and I’m enjoying it.”
As a team, the US made 19 of its 39 three-point attempts for a nearly 49% efficiency rate.
This comes two nights after the team shot 10-of-32 from three in a loss to France.
Forward Kevin Durant scored 10 points finishing five points shy of tying three-time gold medalist Carmelo Anthony for most points all-time for Team USA.
Booker was moved to the starting lineup and was second on the team in scoring with 16 points while forward Jayson Tatum added 14 points off-the-bench.
Booker along with forwards Khris Middleton and Keldon Johnson scored their first Olympic points.
“I think we’re figuring it out,” Booker said. “The more important part was playing as ourselves, [being] not too worried about stepping on each other’s toes and understanding the more aggressive that we are, the more opportunities we open up for each other.”