Lead by only 1 minute and 18 seconds. America fell to Lithuania.
The United States lost 104-110 in the final match of the second round of the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Philippines-Japan-Indonesia Basketball World Cup against Lithuania held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on the 3rd (Korean time).
After leading for 1 minute and 18 seconds at the beginning of the game, the United States has not been able to come back even once. Anthony Edwards (35 points) did his best, but the other players’ poor performance was disappointing. It was a result of not being able to stop the Lithuanian archery team led by Jonas Valentunas (12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks). Lithuania made 14 3-point shots that day.
The United States lost to Lithuania for the first time in 19 years since the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The United States ranked second in Group J in the second round and will play the quarterfinals against Italy, first place in Group I. Lithuania will compete with Serbia for a spot in the semifinals.
The United States fell behind significantly, giving up 31 points in the first quarter alone. Lithuania’s 3-pointer split the rim as if possessed, and the U.S. was in trouble. Even with Edwards’ hard work, field goal hunting was a problem. The United States fought for the lead in the early stages, trailing 12-31 in the first quarter.
Lithuania’s 3-pointers did not fail even in the second quarter. The United States was embarrassed and could not come up with any other answer than Edwards’ one-man show. Controlling Valentunas also failed. The crisis continued as Jackson Jr. got into foul trouble early on.
The United States even deployed Kessler to stop Valentunas, but it was not enough. Rather, they are helpless as they are hit by an and-one play. Coupled with Brunson’s sluggish performance, the United States fell behind by 21 points, 31-52. The United States barely narrowed the gap thanks to Bankero’s strategy behind the goal. The first half ended 37-54.
The U.S. counterattack began in the third quarter. After Edwards’ jumper, Brunson’s 3-pointer split the rim. Valentunas’ consecutive offensive fouls changed the atmosphere. With Jackson Jr.’s successful 3-pointer, the United States narrowed the gap to single digits, 45-54. With Bridges scoring consecutive points, the United States trailed by 6 points, 50-56, in the middle of the third quarter.
Lithuania did not back down easily either. In a situation where the U.S. was close to their heels, they used their height to attack the rim and made a fast attack after successfully defending. The U.S.’s mistakes increased, and the gap that had gone from 4 points to 52-62 became 10 points again. At the end of a cat-and-mouse game, the United States, with Ingram coming late, finished the third quarter with a 65-71 lead.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the United States conceded a large number of goals due to Lithuania’s goal scoring strategy. A mistake led to a double-digit gap at 67-77 in an instant. After Reeves’ and-one play, the U.S. failed to get into a rhythm by giving up the same situation in the defensive process.
The United States trailed again by 7 points, 81-88, with Portis’ and-one play and Haliburton’s lucky 3-pointer splitting the rim. The problem was controlling Valentunas. Kessler and Portis also couldn’t do it, and Jackson Jr. was next. And the attacker fouled, causing Valentunas’ foul trouble.
However, the atmosphere changed drastically when Kuzminskas’ time-lapsed 3-point shot split the rim. It was a decisive shot that made coach Steve Kerr laugh. In addition, due to a series of mistakes, the United States was pushed back by 9 points, 85-94.
Time was not on America’s side. They were shaken by Lithuania’s pressure defense and the number of fouls increased. Although Edwards struggled until the end, he was unable to turn the tide once he had passed. After the 3-point shot, we tried to change the situation with a foul operation, but we ran out of time. In the end, the United States lost to Lithuania.