USA Basketball suffered its first loss under Head Coach Steve Kerr on Sunday, as Lithuania pulled off a surprising 110-104 victory. The Lithuanians showcased an impressive combination of size and three-point shooting in the first half of the game at the FIBA World Cup. Despite the loss, both teams had already secured spots in the quarterfinals, as well as qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris prior to the game’s conclusion.
Although the loss may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, Team USA will need to ensure they are in top form for their quarterfinal match against Italy, as any further loss will result in their elimination from the tournament. There was a glimmer of hope for the American team as they mounted a comeback in the second half after trailing by 21 points in the second quarter. However, key buckets by Mindaugas Kuzminskas halted their momentum and secured the victory for Lithuania.
The Lithuanians dominated the boards, outrebounding their opponents 43-27, and capitalized on a barrage of three-pointers in the first half, making nine consecutive shots from deep. Despite their efforts, the Americans struggled from beyond the arc, converting only 11 out of 29 attempts. This marks the third time that Lithuania has defeated the US since NBA players started representing the country in international competitions.
Despite the loss, the American team received a standout performance from Anthony Edwards, who contributed 35 points, as well as Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson with 14 points each. Brandon Ingram also added 10 points. Jonas Valanciunas, the sole current NBA player for Lithuania, recorded 12 points and seven rebounds, while Vaidas Kariniauskas led his team with 15 points and Kuzminskas added 14.
Overall, while this loss may not have a significant impact on USA Basketball’s outlook in the tournament, it serves as a reminder of the challenges they will face moving forward. They will need to regroup and fine-tune their performance for the upcoming quarterfinal match against Italy.