As NBA stars stamp class in World Cup, Haliburton lets Lyles comment fly – rezal404

Tyrese Haliburton (No. 4) and the Americans have been head and shoulders above the competition in the ongoing Fiba World Cup. —AFP

Tyrese Haliburton (No. 4) and the Americans have been head and shoulders above the competition in the ongoing Fiba World Cup. —AFP

After talking about his key role off the bench in Team USA’s two straight wins in the Fiba (International Football Federation) World Cup, Tyrese Haliburton was asked about the comments made by another American standout leading another United States squad close to 10,000 kilometers away from Mall of Asia Arena.

“I really don’t understand the point,” Haliburton said late Monday night after Team USA’s 109-81 rout of Greece, referring to an American track star getting riled up by the National Basketball Association (NBA) calling its title-winning squads “world champions.”

Noah Lyles, a triple gold medalist in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where Filipino pole vault star EJ Obiena also won a silver medal, shook the basketball world when he questioned the label attached to NBA champions.

“World champion of what? The United States?” Lyles said, after completing his golden trifecta by ruling the 100- and 200-meter races and anchoring the 4×100 m relay team. Many NBA players, including Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, were quick to clap back at Lyles, while ESPN’s morning talk host Stephen A. Smith described him as “flagrantly ignorant.”

‘Best league in the world’

Gold medalist, USA's Noah Lyle NBA world championship

(FILES) Gold medalist, USA’s Noah Lyles celebrates with his National flag and medal after winning the men’s 200m final during the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest on August 25, 2023 (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

Haliburton, however, opted for a calmer response to Lyles, even as Josh Hart, standing nearby the Indiana Pacers guard waiting to be interviewed, was using facial expressions to jokingly egg on his teammate to be more vocal.

“The NBA is the best league in the world,” Haliburton said. “It wasn’t the most intelligent response, so we’re gonna let that fly.”

The league has stopped officially acknowledging its season winners as world champions for quite some time now, making Lyles’ remark totally unprovoked.

Serving as backup guard to starter Jalen Brunson, Haliburton is among the reasons for the splendid play of the second unit in the tournament, which Team USA will look to continue on Wednesday against Jordan at Mall of Asia for the final game of Group C.

The 23-year-old standout is averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the Americans, who’ll look to end the first round on a high and continue their own pursuit of being called world champions.

“When we play the NBA season, sometimes our bench has to come in and save us sometimes. It’s no different here,” he said. “We just try to watch the game so we can bring something different. I think we’ve done a good job so far and we’re just trying to continue that.”

Things will get tougher for Team USA come the second round, with games against Lithuania and Montenegro, two squads carrying heftier players led by Jonas Valanciunas and Nikola Vucevic.

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