In one sense, the U.S. men’s basketball team finished the FIBA World Cup how it had hoped — with a victory. It just didn’t envision that coming in the seventh-place game.
The U.S. beat Poland 87-74 to cap its worst-ever tournament result in China on Saturday. Previously, the U.S.’ worst performance was sixth at the 2002 Worlds at home in Indianapolis.
The Americans rebounded from back-to-back losses against France in the quarterfinals and Serbia in the consolation round to take out Poland, which sent a team to an Olympics or a worlds for the first time since 1980.
Donovan Mitchell, one of the most consistent Americans in the tournament, had a team-high 16 points and 10 assists. Kemba Walker, the team’s most recognizable player, sat out with a sore neck. A full box score is here.
It’s possible next year’s 12-man roster looks completely different at the Tokyo Olympics given the World Cup included two 2019 NBA All-Stars (Walker and Khris Middleton) and one player with Olympic experience (Harrison Barnes).
If nobody drops out, the U.S. player pool would include LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Anthony Davis.
“For some of us, potentially all of us, it could be the last time we wear a USA jersey,” Barnes said after the loss to Serbia on Thursday.
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