Paolo Banchero comes off the bench to lead United States over New Zealand in FIBA World Cup opener

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Paolo Banchero scored 21 points in the FIBA World Cup win over New Zealand. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Paolo Banchero scored 21 points in the FIBA World Cup win over New Zealand. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

The youthful United States team cruised to a 99-72 win over New Zealand in the opening round of the FIBA World Cup on Saturday in the Philippines.

Six U.S. players scored in double figures, lead by Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year finished with 21 points and hit 8-of-10 shots. He also blocked four shots and tallied four rebounds.

The U.S opened the game extremely sluggish and trailed by 10 points in the first five minutes of the game. Banchero provided a spark off the bench, though, when he entered the game in the sixth minute and replaced Brandon Ingram. The U.S. went on an 8-0 run from that moment, with six points from Banchero.

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give the U.S. its first lead of the game.

Both teams traded buckets for most of the second quarter before the U.S. pulled away with a bounty of free throws. The U.S. entered halftime with a 45-36 lead and continued to build on it for the rest of the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards led the rest of the U.S. with 14 points and seven rebounds in the win. Reaves and Memphis Grizzlies forward Justin Jackson Jr. both scored 12 points apiece, with six assists from Reaves and four rebounds from Jackson Jr.. Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and New York Knicks guard both scored 10 points.

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The U.S. face Greece next on Monday. Greece will be without Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had already announced he would miss the FIBA World Cup after underwent offseason knee surgery.

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