The United States Men’s National Basketball defeated Poland 87-74 in their final game of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Team USA headed into the morning coming off back to back losses for the first time since the 2002 FIBA World Championships but righted the ship with a scorching start highlighted by excellent ball movement.
Derrick White replaced an injured Kemba Walker at point guard in the starting lineup, and didn’t miss a beat. The third-year San Antonio Spur assisted on four of the American’s first five buckets and got himself on the board with 5 points in the opening period.
Derrick White replaces Kemba Walker in the starting lineup for the USA. Walker out with a sore neck, and this means the Americans are without 75 percent of their Celtics today.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) September 14, 2019
The U.S. led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter and saw five of their players score at least 5 points in the first half behind a balanced attack. Khris Middleton paced all scorers with 11 points, and Derrick White dished out a game-high 5 assists as their squad entered the locker room up 47-30 over Poland.
Team USA shot a ridiculous 62% beyond the arc in the first half, but couldn’t manage to maintain that momentum in the third quarter. Poland cut their 17-point deficit to single digits and clawed their way back into the contest on the hot hands of Adam Waczynski and Mateusz Ponitka.
Despite another scare early in the final frame, Donovan Mitchell stepped up to the challenge and came through with a huge fourth quarter for the United States. The Utah Jazz star scored 5 points and handed out 6 dimes, finishing the outing with a team-leading 16 points and a game-high 10 assists.
Joe Harris, Khris Middleton, Derrick White and Harrison Barnes joined Mitchell in double-figures with 14, 13, 12 and 10 points respectively. Myles Turner wasn’t able to find the range, but his 4 blocks and imposing presence in the paint were key to keeping the Polish to just 40% shooting in the game.
Derrick White was spectacular in his first start for Team USA and looked like the best player on the court at times. He pestered opposing ball handlers, cashed in a couple of and-ones, and ended his World Cup campaign with 7 of the United States’ 29 total assists.
While Poland made the Americans sweat, they were simply outclassed by NBA pedigree athletes. Adam Waczynski, Mateusz Ponitka, and A.J. Slaughter combined for 50 points, but the rest of their rotation lacked the firepower necessary to pull off the upset.
Team USA took home 7th place by defeating Poland, though they failed to medal at this event for the first time since 2002. Between the indomitable hurdles of injuries and superstar withdraws, it’s no surprise Gregg Popovich and the United States National Team struggled to find a rhythm.
The results were mediocre by the lofty expectations of a historically dominant program, but it was always going to be an uphill battle for this group. Luckily, the U.S. will have an opportunity to re-establish their world dominance when they travel to Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Olympic Games.