After a close shave against Turkey, USA Basketball looks to get back on track with another group E matchup – this time against Japan on Thursday.
In the United States, the game starts at 8:30 a.m ET. It won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but can watch the game live on ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that has exclusive coverage of all FIBA World Cup group-stage games, plus dozens of other live sports, all the 30-for-30 documentaries and other original content for $4.99 per month.
You can sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of USA vs Japan on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
USA vs Japan FIBA World Cup Preview
Jayson Tatum is out for at least the next two games, leaving Team USA a bit more thin on the wing. Despite the lack of depth behind Tatum, they still offer the strongest guard play and should be able to do more than okay in matchups against Japan and Brazil. Tatum’s absence will certainly be felt later on against some of the deeper teams so USA Basketball is hoping that his ankle injury doesn’t linger.
The United States got a scare against Turkey their last time out and nearly lost, grinding out a 93-92 win in overtime. The lack of shot creation on the team is evident as aside from Kemba Walker and Tatum, few other players have the ability to consistently create open looks for themselves. Things will only get more difficult for the United States after group play so the team needs to figure out just exactly how it can counteract some glaring roster holes.
Ravaged by injuries and declined invitations, USA Basketball features a far less daunting team compared to year’s past and even lost their first international game in 13 years with the young squad that is featured at the FIBA World Cup. Kemba Walker is the lone All-NBA player in the bunch, though the injured Tatum along with his teammate Jaylen Brown and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell all offer heaps of potential upside. Team USA is undoubtedly talented, yet has some serious holes that other elite international teams have the ability to exploit.
Along with being thin at forward after the loss of Tatum, USA Basketball’s big men were exposed against Turkey as Ersan İlyasova posted a dominant 23/14 in Turkey’s narrow loss. The US needs stronger play on the interior from Myles Turner and Brook Lopez in order to really have a shot at bringing home the gold medal at FIBA 2019.
Japan is coming off a pair of lopsided losses to both Turkey and the Czech Republic. Rui Hachimura – the lottery pick out of Gonzaga – has looked impressive so far and G-League player Yuta Watanabe slots in alongside him to offer Japan’s one-two punch. Unfortunately, the talent level drops off dramatically after their two forwards and Japan has been exploited according. Don’t expect Japan to put up much of a fight against the United States, though it should serve as a strong platform to see just how NBA ready Hachimura might actually be.
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