(CTN News) – Next summer, the US will participate in the Paris Olympics. In a shocker of a Basketball World Cup game, Lithuania gave the Americans nothing to cheer about.
Vaidas Kariniauskas scored 15 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 14, and Lithuania defeated the US 110-104 in the second round of the World Cup.
Lithuania, which has three starters 6′ 9″ or taller, was among the smallest teams at this tournament. In the game, the Europeans had 43 rebounds compared to the USA’s 27, which had a significant impact on the outcome.
A night after the Americans officially secured a berth at the Paris Olympics, the US suffered its first loss in ten games this summer.
It was still a shock, especially for a US team that was heavily favored to win. Anthony Edwards led the US with 35 points, his highest of the summer, while Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges each added 14.
Lithuania had another memorable night against USA Basketball. They sent a clear message to the Americans and anyone else still playing.
More than once, Lithuania has pushed the US to its limits. Sarunas Jasikevicius’ three-point attempt as time expired fell short as Lithuania lost by nine to the Americans in a preliminary game at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Both teams came into Sunday’s match with spots secured for Tuesday’s quarter-finals, so it didn’t matter much in terms of medal hopes. Lithuania will play Serbia in the last eight, while the USA will play Italy.
It took the Americans less than five minutes of the third quarter to cut a 17-point halftime deficit down to four, and the comeback attempt was on. 71-65 was Lithuania’s lead going into the final 10 minutes and they wouldn’t trail again.
With their second-place finish at the World Cup on Sunday, the Americans also earned an automatic berth into the Paris Games.
Whatever happens on Sunday, they are guaranteed a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals. On Sunday, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic all lost to the US to end their World Cup runs.
As only Canada was left in the tournament from the Americas, there was no way the US could be passed by two teams from its region.
In the Olympic men’s basketball tournament, 12 nations will compete. France qualified as the hosts, and seven teams – so far Australia, South Sudan, Japan and the US – earned automatic bids.
Top teams from the Americas, Europe, Asia (Japan), and Australia get Olympic spots, as do top teams from Africa (South Sudan), Asia (Japan), and Oceania (Australia).
During the Tokyo Olympics two summers ago, the US beat France for Olympic gold.