Team USA’s disappointing run in the FIBA World Cup in China came to a close Saturday with an 87-74 victory over Poland to claim seventh place.
Five players scored in double figures for the Americans, led by Donovan Mitchell with 16 points and 10 assists. Joe Harris scored 14 points, and Khris Middleton had 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Derrick White, starting in place of injured Kemba Walker (neck) added 12 points, and Harrison Barnes scored 10.
Team USA’s finish was its worst in major international competition, and Team USA coach Gregg Popovich has not been pleased with the criticism the team has received.
“Some people want to play the blame game, there’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said after the game, per ESPN. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.
“Their effort was fantastic. … You give people credit for what they did, and that’s it. But it’s not a blame and shame game, that’s ridiculous.”
Poland, playing in its first World Cup since 1967, was paced by Mateusz Ponitka (18 points), Adam Waczynski (17 points) and A.J. Slaughter (15 points).
The outcome was decided early with Team USA scoring the game’s first 10 points and stretching its lead to 14, 28-14, at the end of the first quarter.
Team USA led 47-30 at halftime, aided by Poland’s inability to hit from 3-point range. Poland missed its first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with 1:28 to play before halftime.
Poland rallied in the second half, getting as close as seven points — 54-47 with 4:07 left in the third quarter. But the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and led 63-55 going into the fourth quarter.