At long last, the national embarrassment is over.
Team USA finished its tour of the FIBA World Cup on Saturday by knocking off Poland, 87-74. The win earned them a seventh-place finish, Team USA's worst ever in a World Cup or Olympics.
USA Basketball was already short-handed when it set its 12-man roster — leading to managing director Jerry Colangelo making a burn list of players who skipped the tournament — but were down to nine healthy players on Saturday. Three different Boston Celtics players had to sit out due to injuries: Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (left knuckle).
In their stead, Utah Jazz guard Donovan took over with 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Joe Harris scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Khris Middleton added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists off the bench.
Team USA stifled Poland defensively, holding them to 25.9 percent shooting beyond the arc and 39.7 percent overall. Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner also blocked a tournament-high four shots.
Poland did not have any NBA players but did have a couple notable names for any big college basketball fans. Former Western Kentucky shooter A.J. Slaughter finished second on the team with 15 points, while current Florida State Seminoles center Dominik Olejniczak added two points off the bench.
Although it was a disappointing way to end the tournament — thanks to consecutive losses to France and Serbia — Team USA tried to make a statement. They used a 10-0 run in the first quarter to build a 28-14 lead and only briefly let Poland get back within single digits in the third quarter.
"Tip your cap to the world," Turner said. "They are talented. Basketball is an international game."
The good news for USA Basketball is despite their weak performance, they’ve already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and won’t need to compete in a qualifying tournament next year. Argentina was the only other country from the Americas to finish in the top eight, so both teams received automatic bids.
Spain and Argentina will meet for the championship round of the FIBA World Cup on Sunday, while France and Australia will compete in the third-place game.
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