Lithuania stun USA at Basketball World Cup but Americans still progress | USA basketball team

The US are going to the Paris Olympics next summer. Lithuania made sure that was the only good development for the Americans on Sunday night, when they pulled off a Basketball World Cup stunner.

Vaidas Kariniauskas scored 15 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 14 and Lithuania beat the US 110-104 in a second-round round-robin game at the World Cup. The Americans, among the smallest teams at this tournament, struggled against Lithuania, who have three starters 6ft 9in or taller. The Europeans had 43 rebounds compared to USA’s 27 in the game, a factor that played a large part in the final result.

The loss – the first for the US in 10 games this summer, including five exhibitions on the way to the World Cup – came on a night when the Americans officially clinched a berth at the Paris Games.

But it was a still a shock, especially for a US team who are overwhelming favorites to win the gold. Anthony Edwards led the US with 35 points, his high of the summer, while Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges each added 14.

For Lithuania, it became another night to remember against USA Basketball. And they sent a clear message to the Americans and anyone else still in the World Cup.

Lithuania have pushed the US to the limit, and beyond, more than a few times. Lithuania lost to the Americans by nine in a preliminary game at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, then escaped with a two-point win in the semi-finals – and remained unbeaten in the Dream Team Olympic era – when Sarunas Jasikevicius’ three-point try as time expired fell short.

In a game that didn’t matter much as far as medal hopes, considering both teams came into Sunday with spots secured for Tuesday’s quarter-finals, there was a lot to unpack. USA will play Italy in the last eight while Lithuania face Serbia.

Lithuania made their first nine three-point attempts and built an early 21-point lead, but it took the Americans less than five minutes of the third quarter to cut what was a 17-point halftime deficit down to four, and the comeback attempt was on. Lithuania’s lead was 71-65 going into the final 10 minutes and they would not trail the rest of the way.

On Sunday, the Americans also secured an automatic berth into the Paris Games as one of the two highest finishers from the Americas Region at this World Cup.

Win or lose Sunday, they already were assured of a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals. Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were trying to join the US in the quarters – but all lost on Sunday to end their stay at the World Cup.

And with only Canada still in the tournament from the Americas, that meant there was no scenario in which the US could be passed by two teams from its region in the final World Cup standings.

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There will be 12 nations in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament. France qualified as the hosts and seven teams – so far Australia, South Sudan, Japan and the US – earn automatic bids based on their World Cup placing. The top two teams from the Americas get Olympic spots, as do the top two from Europe and the top team from Africa (South Sudan), Asia (Japan) and Oceania (Australia).

The US topped France to win Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games two summers ago.

Fiba World Cup quarter-finals

Italy v USA; Germany v Latvia; Lithuania v Serbia; Canada v Slovenia.