The United States will leave the Basketball World Cup with its worst position in an important international tournament, after a 94-89 loss to Serbia in yesterday's game that left it with no chance of closing above seventh.
The worst final place for an American team in 45 tournaments was sixth in the 2002 World Cup. The United States will only be seventh or eighth in China, depending on their final match tomorrow against Poland.
"We are completely dedicated to this from day one," said US baseman Joe Harris. "Getting to this point and abruptly falling short, it really hurts."
Harrison Barnes scored 22 points for the Americans, who also received 18 from Kemba Walker and 16 from Khris Middleton. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 28 for Serbia, which quickly positioned itself with a 25-point lead and gave the United States its second loss in two days. Vladimir Lucic scored 15 for the Serbs.
Deprived of the podium, the Serbian team can still aspire to fifth place in front of the Czech Republic, which was imposed Thursday to Poland by 94-84.
Serbia was up 44-40 when going to rest, a margin that would indicate that the first twenty minutes were fought. The Balkans won the first period 32-7. United States the second 33-12. Serbia had an effectiveness of 64% in the first and the United States 19%. In the second quarter, the US hit 72% of its shots and the Serbs 31%.
The Americans of Gregg Popovich will fight with Poland, loser of that game, on Saturday, in the fight for seventh position. The coach praised his team for recovering, basically 24 hours after seeing their hopes shattered by the defeat in the quarterfinals against France.
"I can't express what has impressed me all the time about his character, his persistence as they learn to play together," said Popovich.