Walker fires up Team USA in Australia friendly
With so many big names pulling out of the Team USA squad for the FIBA World Cup, which begins in just over a week, it was interesting to see which names would decide to step up as a result. Many players who have just signed for new teams in free agency opted to stay back at their bases in the US and develop with new teammates, but Kemba Walker views things differently.
For a start, three of his younger squad members are also in Team USA, so he does not really need to throw down the same excuse, as he can learn from his new Boston Celtics teammates about what exactly goes on in the East.
This is a step up for Walker no doubt, with him being the only player who could ever lift the Charlotte Hornets, but things seem different at the Celtics. Now, we have an in-form Walker taking the next step in his career, and it seems that Team USA are going to benefit too.
He netted 23 points for his country when they took on Team Australia. Myles Turner also managed 15 as they turned up on day one with a 102-86 win.
Australia has not been known for its love of basketball, but this seems to be changing in the last few years, and it makes sense to bring the NBA over to Melbourne to give fans a taste of some of the best players. Of course, most, if not all, of the big names did not travel, and stayed in the US, so there are a fair few fans feeling short-changed about the lack of stars in their midst.
However, the current Team USA squad appear to be making a good impression, with a sell-out crowd there to watch the likes of Walker spur their team on to victory.
With a capacity in Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium set at over 50,000, the briefly converted stadium held a basketball crowd in huge numbers for the first time. The home fans had some moments to cheer about, namely when they led for a short period in the second half at 45-44, but the US team began to show their experience and class, and managed to pull away by the end.
Australia will also be pleased to see the likes of Patty Mills and Chris Goulding managing 19 points each against the best basketballing nation in the world. Australia has a lot to build on as they try to increase the popularity of the sport.
Words: Josh Dixon