Anthony Edwards and Team USA fell to Lithuania 110-104 in their final outing before the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup begin on Tuesday. Even with the loss, the Americans qualified for the next round of play and will take on Italy on Tuesday.
The Dominican Republic failed to qualify for the quarterfinals of the tournament, as their 79-112 loss on Sunday morning to Serbia will send them home. They won three of their five games, with their two losses coming against Puerto Rico and Serbia.
The only Minnesota Timberwolves representative that was victorious on Sunday was Nickeil Alexander-Walker, as Canada edged out Spain for a spot in the quarterfinals and earned a matchup against Luka Doncic and Slovenia on Wednesday.
Anthony Edwards (USA)
Edwards’ 35-point scoring barrage proved not enough for the Americans on Sunday, as Lithuania and New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas used their size to pull out a victory and propel them to the quarterfinals.
Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges each contributed 14 points to join Edwards as double-digit scorers, with Brandon Ingram also adding 10 points.
The first half was one to forget as the Red, White and Blue trailed 37-54 at the halfway point. Edwards had scored 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field, but head coach Steve Kerr lacked other scoring input from the rest of his roster. The team’s lack of interior size began to rear its head as Jaren Jackson Jr. found himself in foul trouble.
Team USA leveled up to begin the second half, clamping down and allowing just two points in the first five minutes of third-quarter play. It amounted to a 15-2 run for Edwards and the Americans, clawing their way back into the game and cutting the deficit to just four points with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Edwards continued to make awe-inspiring plays as he does so often does, including this block and difficult layup as they attempted to get back in the game:
The Lithuania lead held into the final frame, where, despite a four-point advantage with just 4:45 left in the game, they were able to stave off USA comeback attempts and secure the victory.
Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic)
The Dominican Republic’s World Cup competition ends on Sunday, as they failed to advance to the quarterfinals after their loss to Serbia.
Towns’ impressive statline of 25 points and seven rebounds — including an efficient 8-for-15 shooting line — ultimately wasn’t enough to propel the team to the next round of the tournament.
There was clear motivation and joy that Towns exuded during this World Cup, as anyone watching could sense his desire to show out for his home country.
Karl-Anthony Towns on what he’s gonna take home with him after his 2023 FIBA World Cup:— Cesare Milanti (@cesaremilanti) September 3, 2023
“Remind me how fun it was playing when I was young. I’m so blessed and honoured my mum gave me a bloodline and culture. To be able to put this name on my chest, meant the world to me”. pic.twitter.com/rk6fm7tsG1
The D.R.’s World Cup run is filled with positives, as wins against high-quality opponents Italy and the Philippines are markers of success.
Towns and his play was a tremendous addition to the squad, giving them a star to lean on both now and in future international play.
Nickeil-Alexander Walker (Canada)
Alexander-Walker played 19 minutes in Canada’s statement win against a Spanish roster littered with NBA talent. The Timberwolves guard didn’t fill the stat sheet with scoring numbers, but, as Wolves fans watched last season, provided a sense of stability and energy on defense.
NAW finished with five points and and two rebounds, shooting 1-for-2 from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Instead, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks took the scoring reins for the Canadians, as Gilgeous-Alexander added 30 points on 58% shooting, including 14 makes from the free throw line.
Brooks poured in 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting (3-for-3 from deep) in addition to his well-known defensive abilities, forming a hounding defensive duo with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Lu Dort.
SGA shined in critical moments, as he often does with the Thunder, hitting a clutch jumper from the top of the key to take the lead with 42 seconds remaining.
Spain wouldn’t go away, however, as Memphis Grizzlies big Santiago Aldama nailed a 3-pointer to bring them within two with 5.4 seconds left.
After regaining possession with a chance to tie, former Thunder guard Alex Abrines missed a game-typing attempt from a step beyond the arc, leading to a win for Team Canada.