Remember the days when Team USA was unbeatable and a shoo-in to take home the Gold at the Olympics? You do? Well, do you notice how we referenced those days in the past tense? That’s because that is no longer the case.
Nowadays, in any given game, Team USA can be beaten. And that is exactly what happened on Sunday when Team USA lost 104-110 to Team Lithuania in the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. As the headline suggests, this meeting represented a battle between two New Orleans Pelicans teammates: Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas.
In the NBA world, most people consider Ingram to be the better of the two players. However, basketball (regardless of where it is played) has always been a team game. And on Sunday, Lithuania was the better team.
In terms of their individual performances, Ingram actually had one of his better showings of the FIBA tournament (a tournament that hasn’t been too kind to him). In 17 and a half minutes of action, Ingram scored ten points on 5 of 8 shooting while also contributing two rebounds, one assist, and one block.
But still, his contributions weren’t enough to push past Valanciunas and Lithuania. He was a stat sheet stuffer supreme. In 19 minutes, Valanciunas averaged 12 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. After spending all summer hearing his name in trade rumors, Valanciunas has risen the occasion for his country, propelling Lithuania to a perfect 5-0 record after that win against Team USA.
With that said, Brandon Ingram and Team USA are not fully eliminated yet. Team USA did win their first four games of the tournament. And because of this, they have qualified for the quarterfinals. For those wondering, they will be facing Team Italy (also 4-1) in the quarterfinals, which is set to take place on Tuesday, September 5th.
The winner of that game will advance to play the winner of the Germany (5-0)/Latvia (4-1) matchup, which will take place on Wednesday, September 6th.