Team USA FIBA World Cup Hurdle: Embracing the Small-Ball Revolution

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Lessons from the Lithuania Showdown

When it comes to international basketball- FIBA, Team USA has always been the juggernaut, the team to beat, the gold standard. But the 2023 FIBA World Cup has thrown them a curveball, and it’s not a crisis – it’s a challenge they’ve anticipated and are now embracing. This is the story of how the red, white, and blue are reinventing the game by going small-ball and why it’s a strategy worth watching.

Small, but Mighty

The Achilles’ heel for Team USA has been their size, or rather, lack thereof. They’ve been smaller than most teams for years, and they might continue that trend. But here’s where the plot thickens – they’re not just accepting their size disadvantage; they’re leaning into it.

Coach Kerr’s Bold Move

Enter Coach Steve Kerr, who, when putting together the team for FIBA, decided to take an unconventional route. Instead of hunting for giants to match up with the towering competition, he’s betting on speed and versatility. Think of it as a high-stakes game of chess with basketballs.

The Roster Puzzle

This new strategy is reflected in Team USA’s roster. There’s only one true center in Walker Kessler, and he doesn’t see much action. The frontcourt is a mix of forwards who are asked to play center when needed. But it doesn’t stop there. They’ve got a slew of guards and wings with the agility and defensive prowess to hold their own against bigger opponents.

The Non-Negotiables of Success

Coach Kerr’s approach, both with Team USA and the Golden State Warriors, is anchored in some non-negotiable principles. Those principles have brought him plenty of hardware over the years, and they’re not changing anytime soon.

Lithuania’s Triple-Double Trouble

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – Lithuania. They aren’t just any team; they’re the biggest and baddest in the tournament. They’re also on a historic three-point shooting spree that would make even Steph Curry blush.

The Three-Point Extravaganza

In the game against Team USA, Lithuania opened the floodgates by nailing their first nine three-pointers. If that doesn’t sound impressive enough, consider this: they were making 44% of their threes before this game, the best in the tournament. And then, they decided to be even better.

USA FIBA world cup

A Late-game Prayer

Picture this: Late in the fourth quarter, with the shot-clock ticking down, Eimantas Bendzius throws in a three-pointer that can only be described as a prayer. Anthony Edwards couldn’t have defended any better. It’s moments like these that make you remember the wild ride of international basketball.

Déjà Vu with Greece

Speaking of wild, this Lithuania defeat had a hint of déjà vu. Remember when Team USA lost to Greece in 2006 at the World Championship? That Greek squad was formidable, but they also threw in some absolutely bonkers shots. History sometimes has a funny way of repeating itself.

Rooting for Lithuania?

Oddly enough, Team USA might want to start cheering for Lithuania in the remainder of the tournament. Why? Because Lithuania seems tailor-made to give them fits. They’ve got the size and depth to neutralize what the Americans do best, and that’s not good news for the stars and stripes.

The Road Ahead

What’s next on the agenda? Italy in the quarterfinals. While some might see it as a lucky break to avoid Serbia, Italy poses its own set of challenges. They’re strong on the boards and have a knack for draining threes. It’s a reminder that nothing in international basketball is a cakewalk.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey

In the wake of the Lithuania loss, Team USA remains committed to their ultimate goal – winning the gold medal. This hiccup along the way is more than just a setback; it’s a lesson in adaptability and the ever-evolving nature of the game. So, as we cheer on our small-ball heroes, let’s remember that in the world of basketball, size isn’t everything; it’s how you use it that counts. The Team USA journey continues, and it’s bound to be a thrilling ride.

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