Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan made his first All-Star team for the Toronto Raptors this past NBA season, but at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball he's an end-of-the-bench player for Team USA. It's not necessarily a mark of shame for the 25-year-old — it's an honor just to make the squad, and the Americans win enough blowouts to give everyone decent playing time. Yet it's understandable that DeRozan would have something to prove when he does see the court, if only because he's a competitive young man with the desire to show his ability on the world stage.
On Wednesday, in the third quarter of Team USA's 106-71 win over the Dominican Republic in Bilbao, DeRozan displayed what he can do. It was pretty darn impressive:
DeRozan finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, serving as one of five Team USA players in double figures. Big man Kenneth Faried, who has been hugely impressive in the World Cup so far, paced the team with 16 points and six rebounds. He also had this fantastic putback slam in the second quarter:
The contest didn't always look like a blowout. Team USA led only 25-22 after the first quarter, with the Dominican Republic putting up a solid effort despite the absence of star Francisco Garcia, who turned an ankle on Tuesday and thought it prudent to rest for a more pivotal matchup against Turkey on Wednesday. But the Americans quickly took control in the second quarter to ensure a comfortable win and run their record in Group C to 4-0.
With each other team in the group having lost at least two of their first four games, Team USA has clinched first place in advance of Wednesday's pool-play finale vs. Ukraine. That finish means that they will face the fourth-place team in Group D in the Round of 16 on Saturday in Barcelona. That opponent figures to be Mexico or Angola, both just 1-3 in the tournament so far. In other words, expect more dunks like these from DeRozan and Faried very soon.
(Videos via EOB)
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