MALAGA, Spain (AP) — The U.S. World Cup basketball team got its first big test of the summer Sunday, and a perfect shooting night from Jalen Brunson helped ensure the Americans passed.
Brunson was 9 for 9 from the field on the way to a team-best 21 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 14 and the U.S. pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Spain 98-88 in a pre-World Cup exhibition between tournament favorites. Spain is the No. 1-ranked team in the world according to FIBA; the U.S. is No. 2.
The Americans shot 67% — 71% on 2-pointers, 56% on 3-pointers, while holding Spain to 42% shooting.
The U.S. improved to 3-0 in its pre-World Cup tour with two games left before arriving in Manila for the tournament. The Americans have averaged 101.3 points in those three games against Puerto Rico (117-74), Slovenia (92-62) and Spain, with an average winning margin of 27.7 points.
The U.S. led just 73-72 going into the final 10-minute quarter, before seven straight points down the stretch pushed the lead out to 97-84.
Tyrese Haliburton had 12 assists in just under 22 minutes off the bench for the U.S., his second double-figure assist game so far this summer. Mikal Bridges scored 12 points and three players — Brandon Ingram, Austin Reaves and Anthony Edwards — each added 11.
Santi Aldama topped Spain with 14 points. Willy Hernangomez scored 13 oiubts, Alex Abrines had 12 and Juancho Hernangomez 11.
The U.S. departs Monday for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for its final two pre-World Cup games this coming weekend against Greece and Germany. The World Cup starts in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan on Aug. 25; the Americans start their World Cup slate on Aug. 26.
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