BASKETBALL: U.S. skips past Czech Rep., 88-67 to open World Cup play in China

Donovan Mitchell of the U.S. (5) goes for a rebound against Czech Vojtech Hruban (Photo: FIBA)

There were no upsets, but a lot of very competitive games on the opening days of the FIBA World Cup in China.

The United States started with an 88-67 win over the Czech Republic in Shanghai, taking control in the second quarter.

After a 17-14 first quarter, the Americans outscored the Czechs, 26-15 in the second for a 43-29 halftime lead and the game was essentially decided. A 15-4 run to start the quarter was decisive.

“It was a very competitive game, physical, opportunity to learn a lot,” said U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich. “The game is a little bit different, obviously from the NBA. A lot of great teams and just an opportunity to get better. That’s the way we look at each of these games, to try and be the best team we can be, and we’ve got a ways to go, but we’re willing.”

The U.S. outscored the Czechs in the third quarter, 23-19, and fourth, 22-19, for the final margin.

Donovan Mitchell led the U.S. with 16 points, followed by Harrison Barnes with 14 and Kemba Walker with 13. The U.S. shot 49.3% from the floor to 40.6% for the Czechs and had a 40-38 rebounding edge.

There were no upsets on the first days of play in each group. Jordan’s 6-11 center Ahmad Al-Dwairi led all scorers in the first round with 34 points, and guard David Huertas of Puerto Rico had 32. Scores:

Group A:
Poland 80, Venezuela 69 ~ Michal Sokolowski (P), 16 points
China 70, Ivory Coast 55 ~ Jianlian Yi (C), 19

Group B:
Russia 82, Nigeria 77 ~ Mikhail Kulagin (R), 16; Joshua Okogie (N), 18
Argentina 95, South Korea 69 ~ Ricardo Ratliffe (K), 31; Nico Laprovittola (A), 17

Group C:
Puerto Rico 83, Iran 81 ~ David Huertas (P), 32
Spain 101, Tunisia 62 ~ Ricky Rubio (S), 17

Group D:
Serbia 105, Angola 59 ~ Bogdan Bogdanovic (S), 24
Italy 108, Philippines 62 ~ Gigi Datome (I), 17; Amedeo Della Valle (I), 17

Group E:
Turkey 86, Japan 67 ~ Melih Mahmutuglu (T), 17
United States 88, Czech Rep. 67 ~ Donovan Mitchell (U), 16; Tomas Satoransky (C), 17

Group F:
Brazil 102, New Zealand 94 ~ Leandro Barbosa (B), 22
Greece 85, Montenegro 60 ~ Georgios Printezis (G), 16

Group G:
Dominican Rep. 80, Jordan 76 ~ Victor Liz (D), 15; Ahmad Al-Dwairi (J), 34
France 78, Germany 74 ~ Evan Fournier (F), 26

Group H:
Australia 108, Canada 92 ~ Matthew Dellevedova (A), 24
Lithuania 101, Senegal 47 ~ M. Kalnietis, D. Sabonis, J. Valanciunas, all 13