Team USA’s Journey: FIBA World Cup 2023

Team USA journeyed into the 2023 FIBA World Cup, hoping to win the championship with some of the finest American talent the NBA has to offer.

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The FIBA Basketball World Cup is a quadrennial spectacle that unites basketball fans from around the world to watch some of the sport’s greatest talents. This year, 32 participating teams played against each other over 16 days of competition, taking place in multiple venues located in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. These 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four and the tournament starts with Round 1 of the Group Phase, where each team plays against the other teams in their corresponding group. The top two teams will qualify for the second round, while the bottom two teams play in the Classification Round to determine their placement from 17th to 32nd. Round 2 consists of four groups of four teams, with the top two teams from Round 1 meeting and playing each other. The top two teams in Round 2 secure their position in the Quarterfinals, while the bottom two teams play in the Classification Round to get their placement from ninth to 16th. After this, the final phase of the tournament begins, starting with the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals, and lastly the final match for the championship. The tournament also holds a third-place match and Classification Round for places fifth to eighth.

One of the favorites going into this year’s World Cup was none other than Team USA. Year after year, Team USA is held to the highest of expectations. Since the inception of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1950, the U.S. has won a medal 12 out of 19 times. Globally, Team USA is regarded as the best in the world, usually being ranked number one. After a disappointing seventh-place finish in 2019, USA was back this year with some of the newest and brightest stars the NBA has to offer. With talented guards such as Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson, and Austin Reaves, and forwards including Mikal Bridges and Paolo Banchero, USA hoped to win the championship this year. Take a look at the journey of Team USA in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

Round 1

Team USA was placed in Group C, along with Greece, New Zealand, and Jordan. As expected, USA flew through the group stages, winning all three of their games and finishing at the top of the group with six points. Moreover, the team was able to win all of its games by at least 20 points. Most notable was the game against Jordan on August 30, where USA won by a complete blowout, finishing the game 110-62. Expectations were high for Team USA coming out of Round 1. However, better competition was in store as the tournament progressed.

Round 2

Moving on to Round 2, Team USA played against Lithuania, Montenegro, and Greece in Group J. Shockingly, USA had lost their first game of the second round against Lithuania with a 104-110 defeat, making it their first loss of the entire tournament. Even with a spectacular 35-point performance by Edwards, Team USA fell short of victory against Lithuania, who consistently played well throughout the game. However, the team was able to bounce back from this loss in its second game against Montenegro, winning the game 85-73, led again by a 17-point performance from Edwards. Team USA finished the second round with nine points, making them second in their group, and narrowly qualifying them for the final bracket of the tournament. 


After Team USA lost their first game in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, they received heavy criticism from analysts around the world. Feeling the need to prove their ability, the players headed into the quarterfinals seeking vengeance. Going up against Italy, USA dominated. Against Lithuania, the USA was down 12-31 at the end of the first quarter; against Italy, USA was up 46-24 at the end of the second quarter. Led by a 24-point performance by Bridges, Team USA prevailed 100-63. The team’s confidence was on the rise, and they prepared to take on Germany in a crucial semifinal match.


While assembling the roster, Team USA made a sensible bet. They decided to run a small-ball roster and hoped that any size differential could be overcome by sheer talent. Unfortunately, Germany was stacked with height, so the game was set to be extremely difficult and physical. By halftime, USA was up 60-59, and both teams were shooting phenomenally from the field. In the third quarter, however, Germany seized the lead and held on to it for the rest of the game, finishing 113-111 in a high-scoring match. Germany’s size was what led them to victory. “They’ve got a lot of big strong guys. They put a lot of stress on your defense and just give them credit, they outplayed us,” Team USA coach Steve Kerr said. Germany had 12 offensive rebounds and 25 second-chance points (Team USA only had eight second-chance points). Additionally, the size of the Germans caused a lot of problems off-screen-and-rolls, especially when switches occurred. Germany shot a sizzling 58 percent from three while racking up 50 points in the paint, enough to hold off Team USA. 

Third Place Match

Team USA has always been expected to receive a medal in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, so this match had high stakes. “We’re expected to win, I guess, year in and year out. We're expected to win just because of the history that USA basketball [has had],” Brunson said. Going up against Canada, Team USA had to preserve their reputation and win this game convincingly. However, they started slow, trailing 25-34 in the first quarter. With 4.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, trailing by three points, Bridges stepped up to the free throw line. After intentionally missing, Bridges got his own rebound and ran to the corner and knocked down a game-tying three-point jump shot with just 0.6 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the U.S., they got outscored by nine points in overtime, resulting in their third loss of the tournament. Canada was flaming hot from behind the arc, knocking down 17-of-37 threes. Specifically, Canadian guard Dillon Brooks was on fire in this game, scoring 39 points while shooting 7-for-8 from behind the arc, leading Canada to the bronze medal.

In the end, it was a disappointing fourth-place finish for Team USA, making it their second consecutive FIBA World Cup without a medal. Now, they are turning their attention to improving their squad and fixing their strategy for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics. There are already rumors going around of potential NBA All-Stars making an appearance for Team USA, so America can anticipate some exciting basketball action in the near future!