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Team USA suffers first loss of summer world cup run, quarterfinals up next

Lithuania closed the night about as hot as it started the night en route to an upset of historic proportions.

Behind hot shooting and dominant rebounding, Lithuania beat Team USA, 110-104, Sunday, Sept. 3 from the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. It was the last group phase game prior to the quarterfinals. Before this most recent outing, the red, white and blue had won its first four matchups by an average of 28.7 points per game.

Both teams entered play with identical 4-0 records. Additionally, both nations entered play looking for a top seed in the quarterfinal stage. The top seed moves on to play Serbia while the loser would be slated for a date with Italy as the No. 2 seed.

After a late steal in regulation, the U.S. had a chance to climb within a single possession of Lithuania. Forward Mikal Bridges’ three-point attempt was just off and reality began to set in for the Americans.

Despite being undefeated, Team USA ran into a buzzsaw when meeting Lithuania, highlighted best by the team’s 19-point deficit in the first quarter, which easily went down as the country’s largest deficit during this world cup run.

That lead would eventually grow to as large as 21 points. As a result, head coach Steve Kerr played his entire team in the first half in search of a change in momentum. This included playing 11 different players in the game’s opening 10 minutes.

Lithuania lit up the U.S. from beyond the arc to the tune of a perfect 6-for-6 mark in the first quarter. In fact, the team knocked down each of its first nine three-point attempts. The first miss from deep came at the 4:09-mark of the second quarter on the 10th attempt.

Another tactic that led to the demise of Team USA came in the form of foul trouble to the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr.. In the first 2:50 of the contest, he picked up two quick fouls. By the time he logged six and a half minutes of court time, he picked up his third.

Jackson Jr. would later foul out along with teammate Austin Reaves.

Right out of halftime, Team USA cut it to nine on an 8-0 run which was capped by a three from Jackson Jr.. That would go as his lone made field goal of the game.

Eventually, the men’s national team would go on a 15-2 run to go down just four about midway through the third quarter.

Lithuania head coach Kazys Maksvytis was assessed a technical foul amidst the run as things appeared to be shifting in the other direction. The U.S. held its opponent without a point for the first 2:56 out of halftime on the way to winning the quarter, 28-17.

However, it was back-to-back turnovers early in the fourth quarter that allowed Lithuania to stretch the lead back to 10. Team USA was outrebounded, 43-27, while also having its bench outscored, 61-41.

Just 48 hours after being held scoreless in the first half, guard Anthony Edwards erupted for 16 points in the first 20 minutes against Lithuania. In doing so, he continued his run as the lone American to score 10 or more points in every FIBA World Cup game so far.

Edwards would finish with a game-high 35 points on 14-of-26 shooting.

Bridges and Jalen Brunson each scored 14 points apiece. Reserve forward Brandon Ingram was the lone bench player in double-figures with 10 points.


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