Even though the United States were finally beaten for the first time after ten games this summer, they are still assured of going to next year’s Paris Olympics and will face Italy this Tuesday in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.
So, it’s not all bad after losing 104-110 to Lithuania this weekend, but now they know they aren’t invincible.
The game winners were almost flawless, as they scored all 9 attempts from beyond the three-point line, dominated the rebounds 43-27 and had seven players reach at least 10 points.
— FIBA (@FIBA) September 3, 2023
“We’re fortunate that the loss doesn’t hurt us in terms of our goal, which is to win the gold medal,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “But it’s a great game for us to experience because this is FIBA. There’s some great teams that have continuity, that understand what they’re doing, that execute and I thought Lithuania was brilliant tonight. They deserved to win.”
The Europeans, who are unbeaten this international competition, won both their first- and second-round groups, and will play Serbia in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. The other two matches will be played on Wednesday between Canada vs. Slovenia and Germany vs. Latvia.
Lithuanian coach Kazys Maksvytis believes this was one of the most important victories of their basketball history.
“In (the) locker room, I said to our guys to celebrate shortly and save all the energy and emotions also for the upcoming game,” he expressed. “It’s very hard. We got one of the biggest wins in our career, but we don’t have time to celebrate this. Serbia’s waiting and they’re not waiting for us with flowers and the red carpet.”
Anthony Edwards can’t wait to face them again and get their revenge on their way to FIBA gold
While some players like Knicks star Jalen Brunson decided to give their rivals all the credit, others are already thristy for revenge.
“Got to give them credit,” the U.S. point guard said after the match. “They came out ready to play. Lot of respect to them.”
On the other hand, Anthony Edwards, who led the U.S. with 35 points, is convinced they will meet Lithuania again. “We’ll get to play again,” the Wolves star said. “That’s all I’m thinking about is the next game.”
“It’s a big win for our country, for players, for coaches, to play against the best in the world,” Kariniauskas said. “I’m happy for my country … and we don’t need to stop now.”
As Team USA already finished as one of the top-two teams from the American continent, they’ve secured an automatic berth into the 2024 Olympic Games in France. Canada was the other team to guarantee a spot in Paris, as they defeated Spain this weekend.
“It doesn’t ease the pain of the loss that we had tonight for us,” Kerr shared. “But to be honest, I’m not worried about this Olympics. I’m worried about this. We want to win the World Cup. That’s our focus.”
Source: Basketball Insider