The U.S. men’s basketball team rebounded from a previous defeat to secure a dominant victory over Italy in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, shocking the world, and getting back on the road to the FIBA World Cup semifinals.
This marked the U.S.’s lowest point yield in a game at this stage of a World Cup since the third-place match in 1998. Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets emerged as the top scorer with 24 points.
On Sunday, the U.S. found themselves trailing 31-12 against Lithuania in the first quarter. However, on Tuesday, they took control with a 46-22 lead in the second quarter, all without any contribution from Anthony Edwards, their leading scorer in the tournament.
U.S. coach Steve Kerr commented, “It’s been a five-week journey for this group, and there’s five more days, we’re the horse turning back to the barn. The horse starts picking up the pace when it senses it’s near the barn. That’s what’s happening right now. Our guys are sensing this is the end of the journey.”
In the upcoming FIBA World Cup semifinals on Friday, the U.S. will face Germany, who narrowly defeated Latvia 81-79 on Wednesday, earning a spot in the final four for the second time in their history (previously in 2002). Germany boasts NBA players such as Dennis Schröder, Daniel Theis, and the Wagner brothers, Franz and Moritz.
The U.S. had maintained an unbeaten record in winning every Olympic and world title from 2008 to 2016. However, they experienced losses in at least one game at three consecutive tournaments: the 2019 World Cup (finishing a program-worst seventh), the Tokyo Olympics (losing in group play en route to their fourth consecutive gold), and this World Cup.
The U.S. World Cup roster, under the guidance of coach Steve Kerr, consists of players with no previous Olympic or World Cup experience, and none who have made an All-NBA team.
Additionally, on Tuesday, Serbia defeated Lithuania to secure a spot in the semifinals. Serbia, without Nikola Jokic, will next face the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal match between Canada and Slovenia.