US loses to Serbia 94-89, assuring worst big-tourney finish

Published 8:08 am Friday, September 13, 2019

DONGGUAN, China (AP) — The U.S. came to China looking to again be the best in the world.

It will go home with the worst tournament showing in program history.

Such is the reality for the Americans now, assured of finishing no better than seventh at the World Cup after falling to Serbia 94-89 in a consolation game Thursday night. The previous worst finish for a U.S. men’s team in major tournament appearances was sixth at the 2002 world championships.

“We’ve committed to this from Day One,” U.S. guard Joe Harris said. “To get all the way to this point and just kind of have it abruptly come up short, it really stings.”

The Americans — the top-ranked team in the world — will be seventh or eighth in China, depending on the outcome of their consolation finale against Poland on Saturday. Harrison Barnes scored 22 for the U.S., which got 18 from Kemba Walker and 16 from Khris Middleton. And even though this team earned the U.S. a berth into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics field, Barnes noted postgame that Saturday’s finale may be the last time many members of the World Cup squad get the chance to play for their country.

“We’re also the ones who stepped up to the plate when others stepped down. We qualified our nation for the Olympics,” U.S. center Myles Turner wrote as part of a thread on Twitter after the game.

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 28 for Serbia, which bolted to a 25-point lead and handed the U.S. its second loss in two days. Vladimir Lucic scored 15 for Serbia, which will play for fifth place Saturday.

“It’s a really tough game to play against those guys,” Bogdanovic said.