Team USA's unbeaten run in the 2023 FIBA World Cup was snapped by Lithuania in a 110-104 defeat. The Americans trailed by 19 at the end of the first quarter and failed to recover despite 35 points from Anthony Edwards.
Just like in Team USA's close contest with Montenegro, a lack of rebounding prowess hurt the Americans' chances. They got outrebounded 43 to 27 and allowed 18 offensive boards. On top of a lights-out shooting display from Lithuania, who made 14 of its 25 attempts from beyond the arc, Team USA got to the line fewer times and allowed far too many second-chance points. Although the Americans recorded 63.6 percent inside the arc, it wasn’t enough.
The good news for Team USA is that they still qualified for the 2024 Olympics in France by being one of the two best teams from the Americas. The other squad from that region to clinch a berth is Canada, who took down Spain behind a monster game from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Team USA head coach Steve Kerr is pleased with the spot in the Olympics, but he won’t let it cover up the work that has to be done in the World Cup, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The squad's focus is still on winning the tournament.
“It doesn’t ease the pain of the loss that we had tonight for us, but for USA Basketball, it’s a good thing to not have to go through any qualifying, anything further, you don’t have to worry about anything else,” Kerr said, via The Athletic. “But to be honest, I’m not worried about the Olympics. I’m worried about this. We want to win the World Cup, and that’s our focus.”
Team USA is not eliminated from World Cup contention. The squad will take on Italy — a team that will be eager to take down Paolo Banchero, who spurned it for the Americans — in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Should the Americans bounce back and pick up a win, they would face either Germany (who rosters NBA players like Franz Wagner, Mo Wagner, Dennis Schroder and Daniel Theis) or Latvia (who has pulled off stunning upset wins against France and Spain).