Team USA ended the FIBA World Cup with a 87-74 win Saturday over Poland in the classification round, erasing a two-game skid that consisted of losses to France in the quarterfinals and Serbia in the classification round.
The Americans placed seventh in the FIBA World Cup, their worst finish in a major international tournament.
Despite their struggles on offense during the tournament, the Americans had a quality offensive game against Poland. Team USA shot 50.8% from the field, its third-best field goal percentage of the tournament. The Americans also shot 48.0% from the three-point line.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell led the team in scoring with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and he made all four of his threes. Mitchell also had a team-high 10 assists.
Mitchell was the Americans’ second-leading scorer behind Kemba Walker in the tournament, averaging 13.1 points per game. He also averaged the second-most assists on Team USA behind Walker, posting 5.0 assists a game.
Four other players scored in double figures along with Mitchell. San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White scored 12 points, and he had seven assists. Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris scored 14 points, and he went 2-of-5 from the three-point line.
Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton had a solid game, scoring 13 points, grabbing six rebounds and tallying six assists.
Though Team USA had its struggles in the tournament, coach Gregg Popovich applauded the Americans’ effort, and he ridiculed criticism surrounding the team.
Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Popovich said people criticizing the team weren’t respectful of the rest of the world’s talent as well as Team USA’s effort.
“Some people want to play the blame game. There’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”
The Americans consistently performed on defense throughout the tournament, but credit should be given to Team USA’s opponents. Playing against Turkey was one of Team USA’s biggest challenges because they had size and could shoot well.
France was simply the better team, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert causing all sorts of problems for the Americans. Gobert was a force on offense, scoring down low with ease. But he also impacted the Americans’ ability to drive to the hoop and look for shooters with his shot-blocking ability
For Team USA, its status as the undisputed best team in the world is likely gone.
The Americans certainly still have some of the world’s best players. If players like LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard play in the Olympics, the Americans will be a tough team to defeat. But even so, the rest of the world has improved.