The U.S. came to China looking to again be the best in the world.
It’ll 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 45 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.”
Serbia advances to the fifth-place game on Saturday (8 a.m. ET), to face the Czech Republic, while the United States will play Poland in the seventh-place game that day, too (4 a.m. ET). The Czech Republic beat Poland 94-84 in Thursday’s other consolation bracket game.
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. Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes scored 22 for the U.S., which got 18 from Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and 16 off the bench from Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton.