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U.S. beats Italy in historic rout to reach FIBA World Cup semifinals

Mikal Bridges FIBA World Cup

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - SEPTEMBER 05: Mikal Bridges #5 of the United States celebrates after a play in the second quarter during the FIBA Basketball World Cup quarterfinal game against Italy at Mall of Asia Arena on September 05, 2023 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

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The U.S. men’s basketball team bounced back from defeat to crush Italy in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.

The U.S. prevailed 100-63, two days after losing to Lithuania in its group-play finale, though it had already clinched a spot in the knockout rounds.

The U.S. allowed its fewest points in a game this late in a World Cup since the third-place game in 1998.

Mikal Bridges of the Brooklyn Nets had a game-high 24 points.

FIBA WORLD CUP: Schedule, Results

On Sunday, Lithuania raced out to a 31-12 lead over the U.S. through the first quarter. On Tuesday, the Americans were up 46-22 in the second quarter, doing so without any points from Anthony Edwards, their leading scorer for the tournament.

“It’s been a five-week journey for this group, and there’s five more days,” U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re the horse turning back to the barn. The horse starts picking up the pace when it senses it’s near the barn. That’s what’s happening right now. Our guys are sensing this is the end of the journey.”

In Friday’s semifinals, the U.S. plays Germany, which edged Latvia 81-79 on Wednesday to make the final four for the second time in history (2002). The Germans have NBA players Dennis Schröder, Daniel Theis and brothers Franz and Moritz Wagner.

The final is Sunday.

The U.S. won every Olympic and world title with undefeated records from 2008 through 2016. It since lost at least one game at three consecutive tournaments — 2019 World Cup (finishing a program-worst seventh), Tokyo Olympics (group-play loss en route to fourth consecutive gold) and this World Cup.

The U.S. roster for this World Cup, coached by Steve Kerr, includes zero players with previous Olympic or World Cup experience and none who made an All-NBA team.

Also Tuesday, Serbia beat Lithuania to reach the semis. Serbia, without Nikola Jokic, next gets the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Canada and Slovenia.