By ADRIAN STEWART CO
Lithuania pulled out a massive upset in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup as they defeated the United States, 110-104, at the close of the second round at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Sunday night, September 3.
Vaidas Kariniauskas led the way with 15 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 14 markers, while Jonas Valanciunas contributed 12 markers for Lithuania, which heads to the quarterfinals with a 5-0 win-loss slate.
Ignas Brazdeikis, Tomas Dimsa and Tadas Sedekersis contributed 11 markers apiece, while Eimantas Bendzius contributed 10 points for Lithuania, which defeated the Americans for the first time since 2004.
Lithuania had a dream start against the United States as they established a 31-12 lead with their outside conversions after the first 10 minutes before it widened to as high as 21 points in the second quarter.
Team USA went on a huge run in the second half as they cut the deficit to as low as four points several times, but Lithuania got timely conversions as the lead reached 11 points late in the fourth quarter.
The Americans made their last push behind three-pointers from Anthony Edwards and free throws by Jalen Brunson to cut the deficit to 104-108, but a fastbreak dunk by Tadas Sedekersis sealed the win for Lithuania.
Edwards top-scored for Team USA with 35 points, Brunson and Mikal Bridges added 14 markers apiece, while Brandon Ingram contributed 10 points as they finished the second round with a 4-1 slate.
Meanwhile, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander caught fire in the endgame as Canada dethroned Spain, 88-85, to clinch the last World Cup quarterfinals seat at the Jakarta Arena in Indonesia on Sunday night.
With the score tied at 80-all after a triple by teammate Dillon Brooks, Gilgeous-Alexander scored on a go-ahead basket and two free throws to give Canada an 84-80 lead with less than a minute left.
Spain managed to cut it to 82-84 with a layup from Juan Nunez, but two free throws by Gilgeous-Alexander widened Canada’s lead to 86-82. Spain made its last push with a triple from Santi Aldama to cut it to 85-86 with five seconds left.
Gilgeous-Alexander calmly drained two free throws to make it an 88-85 advantage for Canada before Spain’s Alex Abrines missed on a three-pointer from long range at the buzzer.
The Oklahoma City Thunder guard finished with 30 points and seven assists, while Brooks added 22 markers, including three outside shots, as Canada heads to the quarterfinals against Germany./ASC, WDJ