CHINA– The slide for Team USA men’s basketball continues.
A day after losing to France in the quarterfinals, the Americans fell to Serbia 94-89 at the FIBA World Cup in a consolation game in China on Thursday, losing back-to-back games for the first time in international play since 2002.
With the loss, Team USA can finish no better than seventh — making it the worst finish for the country in international tournament history. The previous worst was finishing sixth in the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
Serbia was running away with this game early, leading 32-7 at the end of the first quarter. But the US rallied to make it a game, trailing by four at halftime. It remained close for much of the second half until Serbia pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, who plays for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, led Serbia with 28 points. Harrison Barnes — who also plays for the Kings — had 22 points to lead the US.
Wednesday’s loss to France ended the 58-game winning streak the US — using NBA players during that stretch — had in international tournaments. It also assured the US men won’t medal at a major international competition for this first time since the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
The US qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after defeating Brazil on Monday. But the Americans did that without many of the biggest NBA stars, as several of the top players in the league opted out of playing for the FIBA World Cup this summer.
Before Wednesday, the last time the Americans lost in international tournament play was in 2006, when the US fell to Greece in the semifinals of the FIBA World Championship. The US was aiming to be the first nation to win three consecutive world titles after winning three Olympic gold medals in a row during that stretch.
Team USA’s final game in this year’s World Cup will take place Saturday against either Poland or the Czech Republic in Beijing. Serbia will play for fifth place.