Team USA loses another, cannot finish higher than 7th
Kemba Walker discussing on-court play with Gregg Popovich (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Team USA basketball has not finished worse than sixth in international play since NBA players were allowed to compete in 1992. By losing 94-89 to Serbia today, the Americans will play the Czech Republic in the 7th place game on Saturday at 4 am (EST). If they lose, they’ll finish 8th. Yikes.
Their 5-0 run was fun while it lasted, and after getting eliminated from championship contention, it was no surprise that they came out flat against Serbia. For some, this was the expected gold medal match-up.
The US fell into a 32-7 hole rather quickly, but rallied to get the game close by halftime as they cut the score to 44-40. They trimmed the lead by a point in the third quarter before falling by five points at the closing buzzer.
After Kemba Walker played a pedestrian game against their loss to France, he bounced back with a very solid effort in a team-leading 30 minutes. Walker struggled with ball pressure in the previous game, which is a bit of a surprise, but he followed up with an 18/4/8 slash line in this one.
Kemba Walker bounced back from his France dud with 18 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and 8 assists (and he got to the rim vs. Jokic 👇 in 4th) but USA falls to Serbia and will play Saturday (at 4 a.m. !?) in seventh-place game. pic.twitter.com/Z5SlZgNaMJ
Jaylen Brown was the other Boston Celtics player to dress for this game, and his up-and-down tourney ended on a down note as he finished with just four points and three rebounds.
Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum sat out this game and will not play against the Czech Republic on Saturday. Smart has been managing a calf/quad injury, but hurt a knuckle on his left hand as well (x-rays were negative). Tatum has been working his way back from an ankle sprain, but after being eliminated for medal contention there is no need for these guys to push to play. Rest up and be ready for the marathon that is the NBA season boys.
The leading scorer for Serbia was Bogdan Bogdanovic with 28 points. And for Harrison Barnes, he is making the most out the last couple of games wearing a Team USA jersey as he led the Americans with 22 points.
Harrison Barnes on playing for Team USA: The opportunity to represent your country, at least for a player like myself, it doesn't always come around. For me, it's been an honor.#FIBAWCpic.twitter.com/QRnsG9NpDd
Team USA did qualify for the Olympics, which is the goal I guess. And the US will re-tool with a bunch of All-NBAers and future Hall of Famers for the Olympics and be primed to take gold.
The tourney was a good opportunity for a lot of these guys to play for Team USA, but unfortunately they’ll be remembered for being the team that placed the worst in Team USA history.
More important than a victory on Saturday is the health of the guys. I don't know about you, but I'm going to have to wait until I wake up to get that news. No one will blame you for sleeping through the 7th place game on Saturday morning.