Team USA faced its first defeat in the 2023 FIBA World Cup falling 110-104 to Lithuania in a hard-fought battle. Despite a valiant effort by Anthony Edwards, who scored a game-high 35 points. The Americans couldn’t overcome their slow start and Lithuania’s three-point barrage. This loss has raised questions about Team USA’s rebounding, slow starts, and the exceptional performance of Edwards.
The lack of size became a glaring issue for Team USA as Lithuania dominated the boards. Lithuania outrebounded the U.S. 43-27 and doubled them up on offensive rebounds leading to a 17-2 advantage in second-chance points. This mismatch in size was exacerbated by starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. picking up two quick fouls in the opening minutes limiting his playing time. Lithuania exploited his absence with post-ups and open shots when double teams were required. Jackson Jr.’s struggles continued with only one rebound in his last 36 minutes on the court.
Team USA’s slow reaction
Team USA has struggled with slow starts throughout the tournament and this game was no exception. Lithuania raced to a 31-12 lead after the first quarter hitting all six of their three-point attempts and dominating the offensive glass. Their perfect 6-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc set the tone early leaving the Americans with a significant deficit to overcome. Although the U.S. won the second quarter, Lithuania’s hot three-point shooting in the first quarter proved insurmountable.
Anthony Edwards put forth an outstanding individual effort scoring 35 points in an attempt to keep Team USA within striking distance. His performance was nothing short of heroic, falling just three points shy of Kevin Durant’s Team USA World Cup record. Edwards was the sole American player to score in double figures in all five World Cup games. He also made valuable contributions on defense with three steals, applying pressure on Lithuania’s guards.
Slow starts have been a recurring issue for Team USA throughout the tournament, and they faced the consequences in this crucial game against Lithuania. The Americans found themselves in a 31-12 hole after the first quarter, largely due to Lithuania’s exceptional three-point shooting and offensive rebounding. While Team USA showed resilience by winning the second quarter, the early deficit proved too substantial to fully recover from.
Lithuania’s remarkable three-point shooting played a pivotal role in their victory over Team USA. They opened the game by making their first nine three-point attempts, establishing a commanding lead. The Americans struggled to defend the perimeter, allowing Lithuania to capitalize on open looks from beyond the arc. Despite their efforts to mount a comeback, Team USA couldn’t contain Lithuania’s three-point barrage, which ultimately made the difference in the game.
Team USA’s Path Forward
Team USA’s loss to Lithuania in the 2023 FIBA World Cup highlights several challenges the team faces, including rebounding deficiencies and slow starts. Despite a remarkable 35-point effort from Anthony Edwards, the Americans couldn’t overcome Lithuania’s early lead and sharp three-point shooting. As the tournament progresses, Team USA will need to address these issues to remain competitive. The loss serves as a reminder that international competition demands adaptability and resilience, and the team must regroup to pursue success in the remainder of the World Cup.
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