The U.S. men’s basketball team lost to longtime European power Lithuania at the FIBA World Cup but still advanced to the quarterfinals and qualified for the Olympics with a 4-1 record.
Lithuania, led by NBA veteran Jonas Valanciunas but without All-NBA 7-footer Domantas Sabonis, thwarted the U.S. 110-104 in Manila on Sunday to take the top spot in the group.
Both teams had already clinched quarterfinal spots last week, making this group-stage finale purely for seeding purposes. The U.S. qualified for the Olympics as one of the top two teams from the Americas at the World Cup.
The U.S., second in the group, gets another group winner, Italy, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
FIBA WORLD CUP: Schedule, Results
The U.S. has now lost at least one game at three consecutive global tournaments after two defeats at the 2019 World Cup (en route to a program-worst seventh-place finish) and a group-stage defeat at the Tokyo Olympics (en route to a fourth consecutive gold).
Before that, the U.S. went undefeated to Olympic or world titles in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The U.S. roster for this World Cup, coached by Steve Kerr, includes zero players with previous Olympic or World Cup experience and none who made an All-NBA team.
Lithuania made the quarterfinals of seven consecutive Olympics from 1992 through 2016 (with bronze medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000) then did not qualify for the Tokyo Games.