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U.S. finishes fourth at FIBA World Cup, loses three games for first time since 2004 Olympics

FIBA World Cup USA Canada

USA’s Austin Reaves (L) and Canada’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker (R) compete for the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup game for third place between USA and Canada in Manila on September 10, 2023. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP) (Photo by JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Canada beat a short-handed U.S. 127-118 in overtime in the FIBA World Cup bronze-medal game, the Americans’ third loss of the tournament.

It marked Canada’s second-ever global championship medal after its silver in basketball’s Olympic debut in 1936.

The U.S. had been 12-0 against Canada in global championship history (Olympics and World Cup) and 30-2 in all senior play. This was their first meeting at an Olympics or worlds in the Dream Team era (since 1992).

The U.S. lost three times at a global championship for the first time since the 2004 Athens Games.

FIBA WORLD CUP: Schedule, Results

That desultory performance in Greece helped lead to an overhaul of the program and set the stage for the Redeem Team in 2008.

Later Sunday, Germany beat Serbia in the gold-medal game for its first world title. Germany has also qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

The U.S. missed the podium in back-to-back World Cups for the first time since 1967 and 1970. It was seventh in the 2019 World Cup (with two losses), its lowest finish at a major tournament in program history. It rebounded to win a fourth consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo.

“I didn’t need any reminder [that the world has caught up in men’s basketball],” U.S. head coach Steve Kerr said. “I was on the staff in ’19 [under Gregg Popovich] when we finished seventh. ... It’s been difficult already.

“The narrative about USA Basketball and FIBA -- do we need reminders -- we’re past that. These teams are really good.”

In the U.S.’ three losses this month, it gave up its three highest point totals ever in Olympic or World Cup play (110 to Lithuania in group play, 111 to Canada in regulation and 113 to Germany in the semifinals).

Against Canada, the U.S. rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

American Mikal Bridges sent it to OT by intentionally missing a free throw with four seconds left, getting the rebound and then hitting a three-pointer in the last second.

But Canada scored the first five points in the extra five-minute period and never gave up that lead.

The game may have marked or tied the largest NBA representation ever in an international basketball tournament game — 19 of the 24 players combined from both teams (though three Americans didn’t play).

Brandon Ingram, Paolo Banchero and Jaren Jackson Jr. missed the game with illness. Jackson started every previous game at center. Ingram started two group games at forward.

“There’s definitely a bug that’s gone through the team,” Kerr said. “A lot of people besides those three players have been sick as well.”

For Canada, Houston Rockets swingman Dillon Brooks had a game-high 39 points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an All-NBA guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, added 31 with 12 assists.

“We really wanted to play the U.S.,” said Brooks, who at this tournament helped Canada qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2000. “We got our wish.

Anthony Edwards again led the U.S. in scoring with 24, while Austin Reaves had 23 points.

Canada outshot the U.S. from beyond the arc -- 17 of 37 (46 percent) to 10 of 27 (37 percent).

In an acceleration of a recent trend, the top Americans in the NBA didn’t play in the World Cup. Some international stars are also absent (such as Canadians Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins).

Many players who plan to take part in the Olympics are using this summer to rest between NBA seasons.

For the first time in the Dream Team era, the U.S. roster includes zero All-NBA players and nobody who has previous Olympic or world experience. (Excluding the 1998 Worlds, when the original roster did have players who met that criteria, but the final team included none of them due to the NBA lockout.)