Team USA with ‘no other choice’ but to start better as Fiba World Cup KO phase looms


Team USA guard Jalen Brunson (11) pauses before a Basketball World Cup second round match against Montenegro in Manila, Philippines Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

MANILA, Philippines–Jalen Brunson said Team USA will now need to play with a sense of urgency as it enters the final phase of the Fiba World Cup reeling from a shock defeat at the hands of Lithuania.

The Americans will face Italy on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena, hoping to shake off the disappointment of the 110-104 loss to Lithuania after the second round and progress into the semifinals against either Germany or Latvia.

“We have no other choice,” Brunson said. “If we lose, we go home [and] we need to have a different start.”

Team USA couldn’t recover from a huge first quarter put up by Lithuania, even if it was able to trim a huge gap to four on a pair of occasions in the second half.

Lithuania also imposed its inside presence that made it doubly frustrating for the Americans and their supporters who usually pack the Pasay City venue.

“We kept fighting, but that’s not good enough,” said Brunson. “We gotta keep fighting for 40 minutes, But you got to give credit to those guys.”

An interesting tidbit on the loss was that Team USA appears to have been relegated, or if the correct can be considered, to an advantageous bracket.

In beating US, Lithuania will face Serbia, also on Tuesday, with the winning side to take on either Canada or Slovenia.

But with the way upsets have surfaced in the World Cup, anything can happen going into the business end of the tourney.

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