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U.S. Leads Four Teams Into FIBA World Cup Quarterfinals

The United States, Lithuania, Germany and Slovenia secured their berths in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup after posting their fourth straight wins in the tournament on Friday.

The U.S. held off Montenegro 85-73 in Manila to improve to 4-0 and secure a top-two finish in Group J.

Bojan Dubljevic had a layup with three minutes and three seconds remaining to pull Montenegro within 72-68, but the U.S. answered with a 7-1 run to make it 79-69 with 1:29 left.

Anthony Edwards had 17 points and three rebounds to lead five Americans in double digits, while Nikola Vucevic finished with a game-high 18 points and 16 rebounds for Montenegro, who outrebounded the United States 49-31.

“They got 22 offensive rebounds, they executed, tried to pound us inside, but I’m proud of our guys,” said U.S. head coach Steve Kerr.

“It was not our night offensively, we’ll look at the tape, we didn’t move the ball well at all, that’s why we got into trouble. These games are going to happen, you have to be able to fight through them.”

Also in Group J, Lithuania outscored Greece 28-9 in the fourth quarter to record a 92-67 win and join the United States in the top eight with an unbeaten 4-0 record. The United States and Lithuania will clash on Sunday to vie for top spot in the group.

Germany nailed 20 three-pointers in 35 attempts on its way to a 100-73 win over Georgia in Okinawa, Japan to improve to 4-0 in Group K. Maodo Lo shot 6-for-6 from beyond the arc to lead Germany with 18 points, with Dennis Schroder adding 16 points and seven assists.

Georgia stayed within 43-41 at half-time, but Germany pulled away with a 27-16 run in the third quarter and never looked back.

“They played much better in the second half, as everybody saw,” rued Georgia head coach Ilias Zouros.

“I don’t know what happened. We started with low intensity, we gave very easy shots, some three-point shots that gave them confidence. We didn’t function well in the second half.”

Later on Friday, Luka Doncic had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Mike Tobey added 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to lift Slovenia over Australia 91-80. Germany and Slovenia will play against each other on Sunday for the top spot in Group K.

Italy rallied from 16 points down to nip Serbia 78-76 and improve to 3-1 in Group I. Trailing 60-44 late in the third quarter, Italy overtook the lead 65-64 with a 21-4 burst connecting the last two quarters and held on for the victory.

Simone Fontecchio notched 30 points, seven rebounds and three assists for Italy.

“We are really happy about the win. We really did an amazing job as a team, especially in the third quarter down 16,” said Fontecchio. “We never gave up. This simply shows the heart of this team, the will of this team. We just don’t give up. We don’t care if we are down 16. We don’t care how bad we are playing. We just keep playing, keep fighting until the end.”

In Group I’s other match, Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic 102-97. Sharing a 3-1 win-loss record, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Italy and Puerto Rico will fight for the two quarterfinal tickets on offer in the last round of group play on Sunday.

In Group L, Latvia also came from behind to beat Spain 74-69. After being 58-47 behind at the end of the third quarter, the Latvians overpowered their opponents 27-11 in the fourth.

Elsewhere in Group L and also the last match of the day, Brazil stunned Canada 69-65 to snap the latter’s three-game winning streak.

The top two finishers from each of the second-round groups will advance to the quarterfinals of the 32-team tournament.