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FIBA Basketball World Cup

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019: Gregg Popovich marvels at coaching in front of gigantic Melbourne crowd: 'It felt like I was in a movie'

#Popovich
(Getty Images)

The stage was set for a blockbuster at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne and Team USA and the Boomers didn't disappoint, putting on a show in front of 51,218 fans.

MORE: Three takeaways from Team USA's 102-86 win over Australia | Who will be the FIBA World Cup scoring leader?

The opportunity to play in front of that many fans was not lost on either team, with USA head coach Gregg Popovich relishing the bright lights Down Under.

"It felt like I was in a movie, it felt like I was in a movie set," Popovich told reporters post-game.

"I kept looking behind me because I knew I was going to fall off the stage. I was talking to my coaches saying, 'I don't know what the hell's going on'. It was just a really weird coaching situation in that regard. But once the ball goes up, you sort of pay attention to what's going on there, don't worry about that so much.

After leading 44-43 at the half, Team USA used a strong third-quarter push to take control of the game and secure the 102-86 win, led by Kemba Walker's 23 points, 21 of them coming in the second half.

"It was amazing. It was an amazing time and I'm super excited to even have the opportunity to play in front of that many people, it was a blessing," Walker said post-game.

While the final scoreline read a comfortable 16-point win for the visitors, the Boomers made life difficult all night, with Popovich lauding their commitment on both ends of the court.

"Physical game, competitiveness on both ends. The Boomers run some hellacious offence, really hard to guard," Popovich added.

"They do a great job moving and cutting. Coach [Andrej] Lemanis has done it at a high level in that regard.

"We'll watch the film and I think learn a lot from what we had to guard tonight. Give them a lot of credit, really impressive."

The win over Australia is just their second warm-up game in the lead up to the World Cup after beating Spain in Anaheim, California, before touching down in Australia and for Popovich, there's still plenty of room for improvement before they begin their campaign in China.

"We feel we have a long way to go that we can improve a lot because we're so new with each other," Popovich said. "But we know that defence and rebounding is our ticket to being successful in this term. If we don't do that, we won't be successful."

The third quarter saw the USA hold the Boomers to just 18 points as they began to get out in transition and punish the Aussie's mistakes with a flurry of quick buckets.

They outrebounded the Boomers 54-36 on the night, with Indiana Pacers centre Myles Turner looking like the perfect prototypical FIBA big man, crashing the glass, working in the pick-and-roll with Kemba Walker and making the Aussie work at the rim.

He finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting from the field.

The Boomers and Team USA are back in action on Saturday afternoon from 2:00pm LIVE on SBS VICELAND and SBS on Demand.

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