Team USA takes first loss of tournament against Lithuania

U.S. head coach Steve Kerr calls a play for his team against Lithuania in a FIBA World Cup second-round game in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Team USA’s undefeated record is history after a 110-104 loss Sunday to Lithuania in the Group Phase of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Coming back from a 17-point deficit at the half, Team USA fought to get the score to within two possessions for much of the fourth quarter. The Americans came within range after a 15-2 run in the third quarter, but never seemed poised to take the victory.

Despite the outcome, both teams will advance in the tournament. The matchup determined seeding for the upcoming quarterfinals, which begin Tuesday. Team USA has also already qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“I hate losing, I probably won’t sleep much tonight,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the loss. “But for us to get better, we needed to feel this. We needed to lose the way we did.”

Anthony Edwards continues to show his strength with Team USA, posting 35 points Sunday in an unwavering performance. The 22-year-old finished just three points shy of Kevin Durant‘s single-game World Cup team scoring record. Mikal Bridges added 14 points. Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s presence was sorely missed, as the big man picked up two quick fouls and finished with three points and one rebound before fouling out.

For Lithuania, Mindaugas Kuzminskas (14 points), Vaidas Kariniauskas (15) and Jonas Valančiūnas (12) were the top scorers. But the victory was a credit to the team’s overall size and depth.

Lithuania was dominant in the first half, controlling the boards and leading 54-37 going into the break. Shooting was the major difference, as Team USA went 3-of-10 from deep. Lithuania was much more efficient, going 9-for-12 from three in the first half.

At the final buzzer, Lithuania outrebounded Team USA 43 to 27. In addition to being overwhelmed on the boards, Team USA wasn’t able to rely on its reserves as usual. The team was also bested there, getting only 38 bench points compared to Lithuania’s 61.

Team USA can still win gold and will have an opportunity to watch film and regroup before facing Italy on Tuesday.

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