2023 FIBA World Cup Day 4 Recap: Team USA, Luka Doncic, and Spain continue to dominate

Day 4 of the 2023 FIBA World Cup was a regression to expectations but still delivered plenty of basketball excitement thanks to Luka Doncic, Team USA, and a very physical showdown between Brazil and Spain.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves
Lakers guard Austin Reaves / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA faced tougher competition at the FIBA World Cup but still dominated the game with relative ease.

Luka Doncic and Slovenia put on a performance that reminded folks why they’re capable of beating anyone, and Spain and Brazil played one of the most physical games of the tournament so far. 

Here’s a breakdown of Day 4's best games.

Three Points: Team USA dominates Greece, Spain eventually puts Brazil away, and Luka Doncic and Slovenia deliver a decisive victory

Team USA dominates Greece, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down

We’ve dissected Team USA's flaws and put them under a microscope every step of the way this summer. 

Today, they reminded everyone why they’re still the best team in the world even when they don't have their stars. Facing off against Greece, who are also missing their stars, there were concerns about how damaging a slow start would be similar to the one they had against New Zealand in the opener. 

Greece may not have Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kostas Sloukas, but they’ve still got a talented roster with accomplished and proven overseas professionals. The game was close for the opening quarter, but midway through the second quarter, the United States bench provided a surge that empowered them to pull away. 

Thomas Walkup and Georgios Papagiannis were no match for the likes of Austin Reaves, Josh Hart, and Paolo Banchero who were dominant on both ends of the floor. 

What this Team USA squad lacks in superstar talent, they are making up for with effort, intensity, and execution - particularly on defense - through their first two games.

They may not have a pure center but they are team rebounding effectively on both ends of the floor. They outrebounded Greece 40 to 25 today. 

Team USA indeed has no superstar, and Anthony Edwards has not been able to fill that role, yet. Reaves was the leading scorer for them today with 15 points, and he was trailed by Edwards and Jalen Brunson who had 13 each. 

A total of nine players scored 8 points or more, and for this squad, that’s how they’re going to win games. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, and that’s a refreshing identity change for a Team USA basketball squad.

Spain eventually was too much for Brazil after a bruising 40 minutes

One of the most tired clichés of the international game is that it’s soft

Still, to this day, plenty of analysts label the international game and its players as soft, citing it as a top concern when players come to the NBA from Europe, South America, or elsewhere. 

It is blatantly untrue, and today’s clash between Brazil and Spain was a reminder of that. The likes of Juancho and Willy Hernangomez, Santi Aldama, and Usman Garuba were colliding with Bruno Caboclo, Cristiano Felicio, and Leonardo Meindl. 

Both teams played this game as if it was their last, and it was a welcome spectacle. 

Brazil hung around for a while, mainly thanks to 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists from Yago Dos Santos who was matched up against former Ratiopharm Ulm teammate Juan Nunez. 

Dos Santos did what he does best. Wiggling his way into the teeth of opposing defenses, and either finding a crafty way to finish at the rim or kicking to open shooters. Any misses provided second-chance opportunities for Caboclo who finished with a double-double: 15 points and 11 rebounds. 

But Spain had the talent advantage, and even as Brazil threw different looks at them defensively and increased their physicality, Spain met the challenge and never backed down. Eventually, their depth and defense wore Brazil down. 

They forced Dos Santos, Marcelinho Huertas, and Georginho De Paula into a combined 11 turnovers. Spain finished the game with eight as a team. 

Led by Santi Aldama’s 15 points, Spain had four players in double-figures and eight finish with eight points or more. 

Brazil’s turnovers and cold shooting day (9/34 from three) meant they couldn’t keep the fight going when Spain started to pull away in the fourth quarter, and because of that this one eventually got ugly. 

Spain won 96-78, but Brazil made them earn it. No denying that.

Luka Doncic is the best player at the FIBA World Cup

There’s no denying that. It doesn’t matter what Tim Bontemps, Bill Simmons, or anyone else says. There is Luka Doncic, and then there is everyone else. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson, and many others are very good NBA players. Gilgeous-Alexander is a superstar.

None of them are as good as Doncic, none of them. 

Doncic finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists in Slovenia’s 88-67 win over Georgia today and he made it look easy. He posted that stat line while looking like he never even broke a sweat, someone could report that he didn’t even sprint today according to tracking data and it’d be believable. 

That’s how incredible Doncic is. He is already one of the greatest players to ever play this game and watching him fill up the box score for Slovenia is a special treat because his love for his home country shows the entire time, and he has even more freedom with Slovenia than he does with the Dallas Mavericks. 

So please, everyone, stop trying to have some hot take about how someone else might be better than Doncic at this tournament. 

They’re not. So shut up, and enjoy his greatness while you can.

2023 FIBA World Cup Line of the Day:

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 39 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

The Kobe Bryant comparisons are a stretch and seem to be a comedic bit more than anything else, but you can’t deny that Hollis-Jefferson is hooping for Jordan.

2023 FIBA World Cup Play of the Day:

Rondae Hollis Jefferson deserves both of these spots today.

2023 FIBA World Cup Quote of the Day:

While being incredibly talented, this Team USA squad is heart over talent, and Josh Hart is a big part of that. 

What’s coming tomorrow at the 2023 FIBA World Cup?

It’s a quiet day for the most part. Germany will face Finland at 3:30 a.m. ET, Australia will face Japan at 7:10 a.m. ET, Montenegro will face Lithuania at 8:30 a.m. ET, and Canada and Latvia will decide who wins Group H at 9:30 a.m. ET. 

Final note Today, how much would you pay for unfiltered access to NBA teams' timeouts?  

(Warning: The clip below has strong language.)

The infamous Jimmy Butler/Erik Spoelstra timeout fight is worth at least a few thousand dollars. It feels like the NBA is missing a golden opportunity here. 

Austin Reaves is getting his own Lakers mural in southwest LA. dark. Next. Austin Reaves mural