BILBAO, SPAIN – They were expected to be in Barcelona. They hope to finish their trip in Madrid.
First, they had to take care of Bilbao.
The Americans wrapped up the No. 1 seed in their group Wednesday, improving to 4-0 at the FIBA World Cup with a 106-71 victory over the Dominican Republic.
Kenneth Faried, whose shooting percentage dropped after he missed three shots, scored 16 points for the U.S. DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench and added 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
The Americans will finish Group C play in Bilbao on Thursday against Ukraine — when U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski will coach against longtime friend and former NBA coach Mike Fratello — before playing their round of 16 game Saturday night in Barcelona against the fourth-place team from Group D, which is still to be determined.
A few wins there and they would play for gold in Madrid, but nobody is looking ahead.
“Obviously we have to take care of here. Nothing’s given,” forward Rudy Gay said. “We’ve worked hard, we’ve been tested and we’ve overcome that, and also got some pretty big wins.”
The Americans surpassed 100 points for the second time in the tournament — and they were “held” to 98 points in their other two games. Even after having to overcome a halftime deficit in one game, they came in averaging a tournament-best 103.3 points and were winning by 35.7 per game.
All 12 players scored, and the ones who weren’t in the game were up cheering when back-of-the-bench centers Mason Plumlee and Andre Drummond hooked up on an alley-oop in the final minutes.
“I believe everybody felt pretty good about how they played tonight,” Cousins said.
Faried made 8 of 11 shots, a 73-percent clip that actually lowered his percentage for the tournament to 78.4 percent after the Denver forward came into the game hitting 81 percent.
Victor Liz scored 15 points for the Dominican Republic (2-2), which will face Turkey on Thursday, still in position to advance.
In Granada, Ricky Rubio’s quick hands set the tone and Marc Gasol had a game-high 17 points as Spain beat France 88-64 to remain undefeated.
Rubio had five assists, three steals and two drives down the lane for layups in the first quarter in his 100th appearance for the national team, with the Minnesota Timberwolves point guard looking eager to atone for Spain’s loss to France at last year’s European Championship.
Marc Gasol scored 17 points for Spain in the victory, while his brother Pau had 15.
Spain (4-0) returns to the raucous Palacio de Deportes to play Serbia (2-2) on Thursday, when France (2-2) faces Egypt (0-4) to close Group A.
In other action, Marquinhos Vieira made six 3-pointers in a 81-73 win for Brazil (3-1) after it weathered Serbia’s explosive third quarter, when it erased an 18-point deficit.