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Team USA falls to Serbia in consolation game in worst finish since 1992

Donovan Mitchell, Kemba Walker, Team USA

Team USA took a second consecutive loss in this 2019 FIBA World Cup, losing to Serbia 94-89, now only able to finish seventh or eighth in this tournament — officially the worst finish in a major competition since NBA players were allowed to play, starting with the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the initial Dream Team.

The Americans, who had gotten off to a 5-0 start in group play, fell to France 89-79 on Wednesday and were hoping to finish in the top five, something that Serbia rendered impossible after a strong shooting display against the top-ranked team in the world.

The U.S. got off to a grim start, falling behind 32-7 in the first quarter — the worst scoring quarter in the program’s history. Bogdan Bogdanovic was sizzling hot to start the game, scoring 12 of Serbia’s initial 14 points, going 4-of-4 from long-range. However the Americans were able to bounce back and spark a 19-4 run in the second quarter, which eventually narrowed the deficit to four at the half.

Harrison Barnes led the way for the U.S. with 22 points while Kemba Walker rebounded from a sluggish quarterfinal against France, scoring 18 points and dishing out eight assists in the loss. Khris Middleton had equally valuable contributions with 16 points, as his shooting helped the U.S. bounce back against a hot-shooting Serbia that nailed 15 of their 31 attempts from beyond the arc.

As it is, the U.S. can only hope to finish as high as seventh in this competition, set to take on the loser of Poland and the Czech Republic in their last game in China.