MANILA, Philippines–Team USA’s opener in the Fiba World Cup at Mall of Asia Arena on Friday felt like a home game for Anthony Edwards and the rest of the Americans.
Team USA, unsurprisingly the crowd favorite in the basketball-crazed Philippines with its all-NBA lineup, drew boisterous reactions from the predominant crowd of Filipino fans for pretty much every play they made whether it be a step-back jumper from Edwards or simply a behind-the-back move from Austin Reaves.
“[We’re] super excited to have you guys,” the Minnesota Timberwolves guard told reporters at the mixed zone after Team USA’s 99-72 win over New Zealand. “Keep on rooting for us and we’ll continue to put on a show for you guys.”
It was Team USA guard Austin Reaves, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, who drew the loudest cheers in Manila, and Edwards, known for his comical personality, couldn’t help but poke fun at his popular teammate.
“Austin, you’re him!”
This postgame moment between Austin Reaves and Anthony Edwards is too funny 🤣
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 26, 2023
In a video from USA Basketball going viral, Edwards was shown imitating a Filipino fan who yelled “AUSTIN YOU’RE HIM!” as Team USA was heading to the dugout.
Even Reaves wasn’t surprised that he was a fan-favorite in the country, where his Lakers have a cult-like following in the Philippines.
“I had kind of seen it coming. I was talking to [Lakers assistant coach] Phil Handy and he said they love the Lakers out here,” Reaves said in the post-game press conference.
Edwards and Reaves combined for 26 points for the Steve Kerr-coached squad, while Paolo Banchero topscored with 21 points.
Team USA takes the floor again on Monday–a national holiday in the Philippines–and is expected to draw a great crowd again, and this time Edwards and Co. are looking to put on a much more cohesive start than they had against the Kiwis, where they even trailed 14-4.
“Just the start,” said Edwards when asked what the American team needs to fix coming into their next game against Greece. “The first group, myself, we got to come out a lot better for sure.”
WATCH: Team USA’s Anthony Edwards on playing in the Philippines and having Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra as one of the coaches. | via Celest Flores/Inquirer Sports• Visit inq.news/FIBAWC2023 for live updates.
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Saturday, August 26, 2023
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