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BasketballSport

United States, Serbia cruise into Basketball World Cup semi-finals

fiba world cup 2023 quarter final italy v united states
Brandon Ingram of the U.S. in action

The United States and Serbia booked their tickets to the FIBA Basketball World Cup final four with rousing victories over Italy and Lithuania respectively on Tuesday.

Team USA, the highest-ranked side still left in the tournament, trounced Italy 100-63 led by forward Mikal Bridges’ game-high 24 points including 12 from distance.

Earier, Serbia beat Lithuania 87-68 with Atlanta Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic leading the scoring with 21 points.

The U.S. jumped to a 24-14 lead in the first quarter and ended the half with a 46-24 advantage, avoiding the timid start that plagued them in preliminary games.

The Azzurri fired blanks from long range, missing 9 of 11 attempts in the first two quarters, a key factor in them posting their lowest scoring half since 1970. Italy hit just seven of 38 attempts from beyond the arc.

The fancied Team USA padded their lead to as much as 41 points in the fourth quarter with a corner three by Milwaukee Bucks center Bobby Portis Jr.

“We just want to set the tone from the jump and make them play our pace,” Team USA guard Tyrese Haliburton, who made six of eight three pointers, told reporters. “Just trying to play the right way for 40 minutes.”

Italy last beat the United States in 1978.

In the early game, Serbia tightened the screw in the second quarter after a tight opener, limiting Lithuania to 13 points – their lowest tally in a quarter of a World Cup game since 2019.

Serbia, who had won their previous 13 games when leading by double digits at halftime, entered the break up 49-38 and the sixth-ranked team built a 25-point lead with six minutes to go.

Lithuania had won bronze in 2010 by beating Serbia 99-88 and came into Tuesday’s game on a high after handing the United States their first loss of the tournament loss on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Germany play Latvia and Canada meet Slovenia. The 19th edition of FIBA’s flagship event is co-hosted by the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan.

The champions will be crowned in Manila on Sunday.

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