Mikal Bridges’ aggressiveness pays off with best game for Team USA


Team USA forward Mikal Bridges. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Mikal Bridges rose to the occasion with his best game in the Fiba World Cup 2023, dropping 24 points to lead Team USA back to the semifinals.

Bridges shot 4-of-6 from the three-point line and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action as Team USA dominated Italy, 100-63, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“I just stayed aggressive. That’s what it is,” Bridges said. “Honestly, even coming in tonight I was really really locked in on my rebounding that’s kind of my struggles throughout this whole process but what I showed in general, it’s just that force of being aggressive.”

But for the Brooklyn Nets forward, his breakout game was just a testament that anyone from their team can step up.

“We’re all confident. I mean how many points we scored? We were all ready to make that shot and we were all ready to make a play. So that’s never gonna wear,” Bridges said. “We got dogs in the locker room, we all know what we can do, we can shoot, dribble and pass, defend and do everything.”

“Look at the guys I’m playing with. Everybody got their score, everybody is the main guy on their team, we’re just ready for the moment everybody,” he added.

Team USA's Mikal Bridges Italy Fiba World Cup

Team USA’s Mikal Bridges in a game against Italy in the Fiba World Cup quarterfinals. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Anthony Edwards, Team USA’s leading scorer in this World Cup, may have only contributed three points, three rebounds, and three assists. But his leadership was a big factor in the United States’ bounce-back win.

“I just felt that energy off the jump and everybody felt it, the starters, the bench, and we just found each other. Earlier, I gave Ant a big shoutout, I mean Ant can get 30 whenever he wants, easily. Just for him to be unselfish and we talk to him and try to help him out just to find guys and that’s what we did,” Bridges said. “He’s probably happy doing a lot right now. Shout out to Ant for that, he knows how dominant he is and he’s very confident. Once we saw Ant doing that and how happy he was in there.”

Bridges and Team USA are eager to impose their will, aiming to regain the World Cup championship. They face the winner of the quarterfinal clash between Germany and Latvia in the semifinal on Friday.

“I feel like, no matter what, our swagger never goes away and we’re just ready and we’re going to stay ready until we stay out of here,” he added.

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