Sacramento Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and Serbia waxed hot from 3-point range to down the United States 94-88, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, on Thursday, relegating the dethroned champs even further down the standings.
The Americans, who could have placed as high as 5th had they beaten Nikola Jokic and co. in Dongguan city, take on the loser of the Poland-Czech Republic for 7th place.
Win or lose in its next game, this is the worst finish by an American team composed of NBA players in international competition.
The US settled for 6th place when it hosted the tournament in 2002.
What many projected to be the gold-medal game ended up being a match between 2 powerhouse sides looking to mitigate an underwhelming showing on basketball's biggest stage.
Serbia, which boasts its own core of NBA veterans, looked determined to put away the Americans, who lost 89-79 to France less than 24 hours prior on Wednesday.
The Serbs stormed to a 32-7 start, but the US battled back to make it 71-68 at the end of the third quarter.
The Americans fell by double digits again in the fourth, but Boston Celtics playmaker Kemba Walker's 3-pointer made it 91-87 with a minute to go.
A foul by Walker led to a split on the line by Bogdanovic, and Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris missed 1 of 2 free throws in the Americans' ensuing possession, which added more pressure on the US with 20 seconds left in the game.
Denver Nuggets All-Star center Jokic drove the final nail in Team USA's tournament coffin with 2 free throws.
Jokic finished with 9 points and 7 assists, while German league forward Vladimir Lucic scored 15 points, making all 3 3-point attempts.
Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic contributed 8 points.
Serbia buried 15 of 31 from 3-point territory, while the Americans, who took a while to heat up from long distance, made 11 out of the same number of attempts.
Harrison Barnes led the US with 22 points.
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