After facing off against the New Zealand Tall Blacks in Bilbao, Spain, Team USA continued their undefeated streak in the FIBA World Cup with an impressive 98-71 victory.
The game started off with the performance of a long-held rugby tradition, a dance known as the Haka. The Haka is a dance performed by legendary New Zealand Rugby Club, the All Blacks. The pre-game ritual was actually quite captivating, and left many Team USA players such as James Harden, Kenneth Faried and Derrick Rose in a state of confusion. Although I would have loved to see DeMar's reaction, I have yet to come across footage of this. Here's the scene pre-game:
During the game, our #WeTheNorth ambassador played nine minutes, putting up 4 points (on 1-1 FGs, 2-4 FTs) 1 assist, and 1 turnover. Although DeMar has not been performing to his usual standards, it is important to note that the transition from being the go-to player on the Raptors to an end-of-bench player on Team USA is quite the transition. In addition, DeMar's current role on the team is not necessarily indicative of his place in the Team USA hierarchy moving forward. It is worth noting that James Harden, currently one of the team's leaders in minutes played, was the 12th man during the 2012 Olympics.
Overall, the Kiwis played hard but like all of the other Team USA opponents thus far, simply lacked the skill and athleticism to keep up for an entire game. One notable point of weakness was on the boards, where the perhaps ironically named Tall Blacks were dominated 48-33. Perhaps everyone's favourite scrum instigator Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams could have been of service. (He unfortunately opted out of the tournament.)
Team USA's next game is on Wednesday against the Dominican Republic led by Houston Rocket Francisco Garcia. Will they prove to be an unexpectedly difficult opponent? How much will DeRozan play given his dismantling of the DR last month?
Share your thoughts, Raptors fans.