In an unexpected turn of events, the U.S. men’s basketball team faced a challenging test against Montenegro at the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Friday. Despite being heavily favored, the Americans struggled against their underdog opponents, trailing by a point at halftime and finding themselves in a close contest until the final minutes.
The American team, which had cruised through earlier rounds with comfortable wins, was met with resistance from Montenegro. The second-round opener for both teams turned out to be a much tighter affair than anticipated. Ultimately, the U.S. managed to secure an 85-73 victory, preserving their unbeaten record in the tournament.
Anthony Edwards emerged as the leading scorer for the Americans, contributing all of his 17 points in the second half. Austin Reaves added 12 points, while Jaren Jackson Jr. chipped in with 11. Mikal Bridges and Tyrese Haliburton also played crucial roles, each contributing 10 points to the U.S. effort.
Despite the challenging game, U.S. coach Steve Kerr commended his team for their resilience. Kerr acknowledged that such competitive games are part of the sport and highlighted his players’ ability to overcome adversity.
Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic was a standout performer, recording 18 points and an impressive 16 rebounds. Kendrick Perry contributed 14 points for Montenegro, which held a slim 39-38 lead at halftime.
The result, combined with Lithuania’s victory over Greece, secured the Americans a spot in the quarterfinals regardless of their outcome against Lithuania on Sunday. The match served as a reminder that even in a tournament where the U.S. is often considered the favorite, no game can be taken for granted.
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