In what most everyone expected to be the Gold Medal match up, Serbia and Team USA instead met up in the fifth place game of the FIBA World Cup and it wasn’t pretty for the Americans.
They were completely destroyed in the first quarter, shooting just 3-16 in that first period USA found themselves down by 25 points, 32-7 when the first 10 minutes ended. The team would ultimately make their own run in the second quarter before eventually falling to the Serbs 94-89 and can’t place any higher than 7th place.
This is the United States’ second consecutive loss after being bounced from medal contention by Rudy Gobert and France the previous day. The loss to Serbia wasn’t entirely unexpected, but Team USA finishing in sixth was way worse than even the most-fervent international-friendly critics were predicting the team headlined by Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Khris Middleton would finish.
Bogdanovic Stays Hot for Serbia
The tournament’s leading scorer Bogdan Bogdanovic continued to light up the competition. The Sacramento Kings guard led the way for Serbia, scoring 28 points including 7-14 3-pointers. Vladimir Lucic contributed 15 points and Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic added 9 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds including two crucial free throws with 20 seconds remaining to cement the historic win for Team Serbia. This was a disappointing finish for Serbia, too, after the Euro powerhouses were upset by Argentina, they were knocked out of the World Cup bracket much earlier than expected.
Team USA was led by two players that came up short against France. Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings rebounded from a 1-3 shooting performance with 22 points. Walker also bounced back shooting 7 for 11 and added 18 points. Sharpshooting Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks had 16 points. You can see the full boxscore here.
The team lacked star power, that was no surprise, but they also lacked experience and consistency. After scoring 28 points against France, Mitchell was quiet against Serbia with just 10 points on 4-12 shooting. Had the team’s top players, including Mitchell, Walker, and Middleton were able to contribute game to game, we’re confident that Team USA would still be in contention.
After 58 straight wins since 2013, Team USA has a losing streak, the first time a team with NBA players lost twice in a row since 2002. Next up is another game on Saturday to determine whether Team USA will finish 7th or 8th place. After that, it’s time to get the veteran superstars back, shore up some size up front and bring along a handful of the NBA’s next generation if the United States of America wants a gold in the 2020 Olympics.