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MANILA, Philippines – The USA no longer needs to be reminded that the rest of the world is catching up.
USA head coach Steve Kerr said other countries have tipped the balance of power long before as the Americans failed to win a medal for the second straight FIBA World Cup.
Its title bid crushed by Germany in the semifinals, the USA fell short of even a bronze finish after absorbing a 127-118 overtime loss to Canada at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, September 10.
For Kerr, the writing was on the wall for the Americans following their seventh-place finish – their worst in World Cup history – four years ago in China.
“I didn’t need any reminder. I was on the staff in 2019, we finished seventh. The United States hasn’t won the World Cup since 2014. It’s hard,” said Kerr.
The USA carried lofty expectations of reclaiming the crown, especially after it swept its five-game exhibition slate before the World Cup, beating defending champion Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, and Puerto Rico.
But a team put together in just less than two months saw its spotty defense exposed by foes in the World Cup which thrived on cohesion and chemistry.
Germany shot 58% from the field – including a staggering 68% from two-point area – in its 113-111 revenge win over the United States to reach its first-ever World Cup final.
In the bronze medal game, the Canadians churned out 127 points – the most the Americans conceded in a World Cup game.
The result marked the first time Canada finished higher than USA in the World Cup.
It was also the first time the United States went without a medal in consecutive World Cup editions since it landed fourth in 1963, fourth in 1967, and fifth in 1970.
“The narrative about USA basketball… do we need a reminder? We’re past that. These teams are really good,” said Kerr.
Collection of talent
In can be argued that USA lost simply because it did not send its more accomplished and more experienced stars to the World Cup.
Led by the likes of Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges, Austin Reaves, and Jalen Brunson, the 12-man United States squad is a collection of up-and-comers and roles players in the NBA.
No current American player made an All-NBA Team, while only four – Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Ingram – were named All-Stars.
But the same argument can be made for the other World Cup teams.
Serbia, for example, is missing not just its most decorated star but also arguably the best player in the world in two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, who skipped the World Cup to rest after leading the Denver Nuggets’ title romp.
Canada, meanwhile, does not have Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins, two key players for NBA championship-winning teams.
Murray joined hands with Jokic to power the Nuggets to a historic NBA title last season, while Wiggins helped the Golden State Warriors win it all in 2022.
“These teams in FIBA are really good, they’re well-coached. They’ve got continuity, they’ve played together for a long time. This is difficult,” said Kerr.
A year before the Paris Games, the United States has ample time to prepare – and perhaps convince stars like Steph Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant to suit up – as it shoots for a fifth straight Olympic gold. – Rappler.com