Serbia beat Team USA 94-89 in a consolation game at the FIBA World Cup in
China on Thursday, continuing a spiral that will conclude Saturday with no
better than a seventh-place finish in the tournament.
It is guaranteed as the worst showing in international play by the United States, as the top-ranked team in the world will wrap up the World Cup with another consolation game Saturday. In 45 major international competitions, Team USA had never finished worse than sixth and medalled 39 times.
Serbia exploded with a 32-7 advantage in the first quarter when they nailed eight of 9 attempts from three-point range and added six free throws courtesy of fouls on three-point tries. Serbia finished out the victory behind a game-high 28 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings), who was 7 of 14 from three-point range.
Team USA came right back in the second quarter, outscoring Serbia 33-12 on 72 percent shooting, but shaky defense and the inability to consistently score allowed Serbia to keep a comfortable cushion.
The Americans, paced by Harrison Barnes with 22 points, played without Jayson Tatum (ankle) and his Boston Celtics teammate Marcus Smart, who injured his left hand. Tatum has missed the past five games.
Vladimir Lucic scored 15 points for Serbia. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) added nine points.
The winner of Poland-Czech Republic will face Serbia for fifth place, with the loser taking on Team USA.