U.S. Loses to Serbia at Basketball World Cup, Guaranteeing Worst Finish

DONGGUAN, China — The United States came to China looking to again be the best basketball team 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 FIBA World Cup after falling to Serbia, 94-89, in a consolation game on Thursday. The previous worst finish for a United States men’s team in 45 tournament appearances was sixth at the 2002 world championships.

“We’ve committed to this from Day 1,” United States 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 Saturday. Harrison Barnes scored 22 for the United States, which got 18 from Kemba Walker and 16 from Khris Middleton.

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

“It’s a really tough game to play against those guys,” Bogdanovic said. “I’m sure both teams were really upset after losing in the quarterfinals and we were just trying to make people happy.”

A Serbia-United States game was widely expected to be one for the gold medal this weekend. The prospects of that received plenty of hype going into the tournament — especially after Serbia’s coach, Sasha Djordjevic, called out the Americans in a television interview by saying, “If we meet, may God help them.” But all that was on the line Thursday night were bragging rights and a few world ranking points.

“There’s no regrets from our group in terms of what we’ve given, what we’ve sacrificed, the commitment everyone’s made to be away from their families, away from their teams, away from their organizations,” Barnes said. “There’s no regrets.”

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