By Chris Harris Contributor
Updated 9/5/23 9:58am ET
Team USA’s perfect record is now history following its 110-104 loss to Lithuania in the Group Phase of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The Americans struggled for much of the fourth quarter to pull within two possessions after falling behind by 17 points at the break. A 15-2 surge in the third quarter brought the Americans within striking distance, but they never got over the hump. Despite the outcome, both teams will advance in the tournament, as the matchup determined seeding for the upcoming quarterfinals, which begin today.
It’s win or go home for Team USA and its opponent is not an unfamiliar one. Italy boasts a number of current and former NBA players, and the team also went 4-1 in the first and second rounds of the tournament. Italy also won a number of close games to secure its spot in the quarterfinals, including a vital 78-76 upset over Serbia. For the sake of comparison, the Italian’s point differential was plus-34, while the Americans’ was plus-109. The U.S. squad is currently favored by 15.5 points.
Team USA vs. Italy
- Date: Tuesday, Sep. 5 | Time: 8:40 a.m. ET
- Location: Mall of Asia Arena — Manila, Philippines
- TV channel: ESPN 2
- Odds: Team USA -15.5 | O/U: 175.5 (BET365)
Italian Forward Simone Fontecchio of the Utah Jazz is leading his team in scoring with 18.4 points per game and poses the biggest threat to the American team. Team USA must contain Fontecchio, but will also need to rebound effectively as Italy enters the quarterfinals as the second-best rebounding team left in the competition. The Americans have struggled on the glass in their last two games as Montenegro and Lithuania have both thrived on second-chance points. Italy is on a three-game winning streak after starting the tournament with a stunning loss to the Dominican Republic in the first round of group play.
Anthony Edwards, who has been a standout for the American squad, scored 35 points in the defeat. Edwards is undoubtedly the team’s leader and was just three points short of Kevin Durant’s Team USA record. For the Americans to win, Edwards must maintain his tournament averages of 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
The stakes are higher than ever as the winner advances to the semifinals, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament. Stau tuned for more updates!
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