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Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVAugust 26, 2023

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - AUGUST 26: Austin Reaves #15  of the USA Men's Senior National Team celebrates against New Zealand as part of the 2023 FIBA World Cup on August 26, 2023 at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves has gained a cult following and enjoyed plenty of individual success in the pros, but the FIBA Basketball World Cup might be offering the 25-year-old his first real taste of the trappings that come with stardom in the NBA.

“I was one of those kids watching the World Cup [and] the Olympics, so every day I wake up and cherish those moments,” he said after Team USA’s 99-72 win over New Zealand. “I’m from a super small town and not a lot of people expected me to be here representing our country. So for the [crowds] to accept me the way that they accept me, it means a lot to me.”

Fans in the Philippines, where the U.S. played its opener, are passionate about basketball, and the Lakers have built a sizable following there.

Despite being thousands of miles from home, Reaves has no shortage of supporters at the moment. Mall of Asia Arena in Manila might as well have been covered in purple and gold given how much his major actions brought a roar from the crowd.

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 @FIBAWC

Austin Reaves just received the loudest ovation of all USA players.

That Philippines love is as real as it gets. ♥️#FIBAWC X #WinForAll

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 @FIBAWC

Austin Reaves sends the arena into a frenzy.

Every time he does anything. #FIBAWC x #WinForAll

Reaves gave the fans plenty to cheer about. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting to go along with two rebounds, six assists and three steals.

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