In Team USA’s FIBA World Cup opener, Kyrie Irving got the nod to start at one of three guard positions, as Team USA routed Finland in a 114-55 victory. Starting beside fellow Team USA guards James Harden and Stephen Curry, Irving was chosen to start over Derrick Rose, who ended up coming off the bench for Mike Krzyzewski’s squad. The Americans jumped out to an impressive 60-18 first-half start, and then cruised to victory in the second half as most expected.
Kyrie Irving did just fine in his first official Team USA game, shooting 4 of 7 from the field and converting on his only three-point attempt. Irving also tallied nine points, four assists, two rebounds and one steal. It was not a performance that stuck out above the rest, but a solid outing by Irving most likely earns him a starting spot for Sunday’s matchup against Turkey.
Rose, however, stuck out more than Kyrie Irving on the stat sheet. Although it looked like he was limping a bit throughout the game, Rose registered 12 points, three assists, two rebounds and three steals, while shooting 3 of 8 from the field and 5 of 5 from the free throw line. He did manage to turn the ball over five times, the most by any Team USA member on Saturday.
Finland was one of the weaker opponents that Team USA will face leading up to the Round of 16, but Irving and crew will have a much tougher challenge on Sunday against Group C opponent Turkey. The Turkish will be the hardest challenge for Team USA before they enter Round of 16 play; the seventh-best team according to rankings of the FIBA World Cup games.
Team USA will tip off against Turkey on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The game can be watched on ESPN and the WatchESPN app.