Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried posts double-double against New Zealand

Team USA improves to 3-0 at 2014 FIBA World Cup
by Aaron Lopez

Once again, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried brought his energy from the opening tip. This time, his U.S. teammates followed suit.

Faried continued his torrid play at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, recording Team USA's first double-double of the tournament in Tuesday's 98-71 victory over New Zealand in Bilbao, Spain.

The Manimal scored 15 points and added 11 rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot in 25 minutes. Faried went 7-for-9 from the field and is now 21-for-26 overall in three games. He is averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds.

"Overall, from the start of training camp, he’s been the biggest and best surprise and has turned out to be a very, very important player for us," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzeweski said. "He’s made that happen. We never call a play for him, although we posted him once today, but he did that on his own. He just makes plays. I guess that’s why they call him a player -- he makes plays."

USA vs. New Zealand Photo Gallery

Unlike two days earlier against Turkey, Team USA (3-0) never trailed. Faried scored seven points in a 69-second span of the first quarter to help the Americans build an early 12-point lead.

"We had to come out more mature," Faried said. "Turkey really smacked us; they smacked us in the first half. They woke us up and guys knew it’s not going to be easy, and we have to come out each and every game and play our hearts out and give it our all if we want to go get this gold."

New Zealand managed to stay within nine points in the first five minutes of the second quarter before Team USA went on a 16-2 run that effectively put the game away by halftime.

New Zealand never got closer than 20 points in the second half.

With two games remaining in Group C, the United States clinched a spot in the elimination round.

"Expect the unexpected," said Faried, who leads Team USA in rebounding and is second to Anthony Davis (19 ppg) in scoring.

"We’re just having fun. We’re playing basketball. Each and every last one of us doesn’t care who scores the ball, as long as we win. We are just trying to get the gold. We don’t care who’s out there scoring, who’s out there rebounding, who’s out there getting steals or the shine and glory. We just want to win games."

The Americans face the Dominican Republic on Wednesday at 1:30pm MT before concluding pool play Thursday against Ukraine at 9:30am MT.