The U.S. men’s national basketball team suffered its first loss of this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup Sunday, falling to Lithuania 110-104. And that could have been a much more embarrassing loss, with Lithuania leading 31-12 after the first quarter and 54-37 at the half. The American team battled back in the third quarter, including with a 13-0 run, but couldn’t do enough to fully pull off the comeback.
Biggest upset of the tournament so far? 🚨
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 3, 2023
USA LOSES TO LITHUANIA IN THE SECOND ROUND 🚨
Its first loss of the 2023 tournament 😳 pic.twitter.com/K5PtG2fCKt
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 3, 2023
While Lithuania had given the U.S. many memorable battles in the past (and been involved in many other memorable basketball stories), this was just their national team’s third victory ever over an American team. It followed an 84-82 group-stage win at the 1998 World Cup (but one where the U.S. had no NBA players due to a lockout) and a memorable 94-90 win in the 2004 Athens Olympics. And it came from a full team effort, with Vaidas Kariniauskas contributing a team-high 15 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas adding 14, and New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valančiūnas (the lone NBA player on the Lithuania roster) chipping in 12 points and seven rebounds.
For the U.S., Anthony Edwards led the way with 35 points, just three behind Kevin Durant’s team scoring record. Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson each added 14 points, while Brandon Ingram had 10.
The U.S. is still in this tournament, and will face Italy in the quarterfinals Tuesday. They also qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics thanks to losses from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Brazil Sunday. But this was certainly a disappointing loss for this team, and the first one in Steve Kerr’s 2021-present run as head coach. We’ll see how they rebound from this.