Mitchell, Walker lead US over Spain in World Cup warm-up

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Donovan Mitchell scored 13 points to lead the United States (US) to a 90-81 victory over Spain on Friday night in a basketball World Cup warm-up for both teams.

Khris Middleton added 12 points and Kemba Walker scored 11 with eight assists, six rebounds and two steals for the US, who head to Australia on Saturday where they will play two friendlies against the Aussies and one against Canada before the World Cup starts in China on August 31.

Marc Gasol led Spain with 19 points.

Ricky Rubio added 16 points, seven assists and five steals for Spain who had 11 points off the bench from Sergio Llull.

The win in Anaheim, California, came on the same day that Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker became the latest player ruled out of the US World Cup squad by injury.

United States’ Khris Middleton (R) shoots over Spain’s Marc Gasol during the second half of the game. PHOTO: AP

Tucker, a 34-year-old veteran of five international seasons, suffered a left ankle sprain during practice.

His departure left 14 candidates for 12 spots on coach Gregg Popovich’s squad that will try to capture a third straight World Cup title.

Those forced out of consideration by injury included Kyle Lowry of the Raptors, who had hoped to recover from a left thumb injury in time to play but withdrew on Monday.

Other NBA stars – including LeBron James, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard – opted out, preferring to prepare for the NBA season.

“Right now we’re just focussing on the guys who are here,” Walker said. “We’re working hard to get better each and every day. Tonight it showed.”

The US, ranked number one in the world by international governing body FIBA, led second-ranked Spain by double digits for much of the second half.

Llull’s three-pointer with less than five minutes to play trimmed Spain’s deficit to eight points, but the US responded with an 8-0 scoring run.

“We played really well against a really good team,” Walker said. “That was a good win for us.”