FIBA World Cup Day 4: One Door Closes, Another Stays Open

Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert and the shockingly-eliminated from gold medal contention France has company, and from a fellow teammate.

For many, Monday was just another day at the office. Luka Doncic and Serbia rolled, with Doncic tallying 34 points in a 20 point blowout of Georgia, and the United States made and example out of the ninth-ranked Greek National Team (more on that later). Oh, and South Sudan blew out China.

Wait, what?

Anderson, China, Kiss Title Hopes Goodbye

If you had Li Kai’er and the 27th-ranked Chinese National team having its title hopes ended by the 62nd-ranked South Sudanese squad in dominating fashion on your bingo card, go ahead and take a bow and crack open a beer. You deserve it.

Kai’er, known to us in the United States as Kyle Anderson, notched 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, building on an unfortunate start to his World Cup on Saturday. He was crucial for a Chinese team that attacked the paint effectively. Both China and South Sudan had 22 points in the paint, with China shooting it inside the arc at a better clip.

But South Sudan was on fire from behind the arc, shooting 50% on triples. Former Honorable Mention All-American at Iowa State and Minnesota Timberwolf, and current Maine Celtic of the G League Marial Shayok had 12 points, and Chicago Bull Carlik Jones had 21.

Anderson now joins Gobert as eliminated World Cup competitors, as Gobert’s France team was eliminated from contention at the hands of Latvia on Sunday. I said when it happened that Gobert perhaps would now have more time this offseason to polish up his three ball to complete his path as a true stretch five this season.

Now, perhaps he and Anderson can have some additional time to mend fences from the near-MMA skirmish they had at the end of the 2022-23 season. I have a couple of ideas:

The possibilities are endless. At the end of the day, a little more time off for a couple people who battled back spasms last year can’t be a bad thing, and escaping the tournament without injury is a win for the Timberwolves.

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Another Monday at the Office for Ant, Team USA

0-0 was probably the closest the game was between USA and Greece on Monday. There were plenty of highlights to be had, but the best one came from none other than yours truly.

I’ve never felt more like a supermax NBA player than I did watching that live. Just instead of the FIBA World Cup, it was a rec basketball game with zero spectators.

Ironically, it was really the only notable highlight of Ant’s day/morning as well. He finished with 13 points on just 36% shooting, taking just two shots from behind the arc as well. He was also just a +7 in a game that saw a 28-point margin of victory (109-81 was the final). He had some bright spots on the fast break and attacking the basket, but it was clear that it just wasn’t quite his game.

Greece is not a slouch of a team. They currently sit ninth in the FIBA world rankings and are led by the . Yet, the US found themselves in a bench-emptying situation later in the game, which led to a possible therapeutic moment for Wolves fans, with Walker Kessler finding his way onto a poster via Thanasis Antetokuonmpo.

You see that, then realize Thanasis maybe has fresher legs from being at the end of the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench for 82 games.

Austin Reaves prolonged his hot stretch with 15 points on efficient shooting.

Up Next

The Wolves will be active tomorrow, but make sure to fire up the coffee maker. Below are Wolves players that will see the court tomorrow:

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