Things have gone from bad to worse for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. Their loss to France on Wednesday ensured that they would not medal, but their subsequent loss to Serbia pushed them even further down the drain. Team USA can now finish no higher than seventh in the World Cup, its worst finish at a major international tournament since NBA players were allowed to participate in 1992, eclipsing even the embarrassing sixth-place finish of the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis.
Worse yet, seventh place is not even assured. Team USA will have to earn it by defeating Poland on Saturday. They are heavy favorites in that matchup, but after the last two losses Team USA sustained, nothing is out of the question for this struggling American roster.
For Poland, this is a chance to earn some worldwide recognition in taking down a superpower. For Team USA, it is simply a chance to avoid limping out of this tournament in defeat. Here is everything you need to know about this game.
How to watch Team USA vs. Poland
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 14
- Time: 4 a.m. ET
- Location: Wukesong Sports Arena — Beijing, China
- Streaming: ESPN+
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: Team USA -20.5
USA: The 2004 Olympic team that won bronze lost three total games, but never two in a row. Neither did the sixth-place team in 2002, so this group has already made dubious history. Now, they are playing to avoid making things any worse. Three consecutive losses would not only be a new low for Team USA, but would cast a cloud over the program heading into next summer’s Olympics. It might make it harder for USA Basketball to recruit top talent or even retain the players it currently has. Things are already bad. They can’t get worse.
Poland: Poland has never medaled at the Olympics or the World Cup. The best it has ever done in a major competition is silver in Eurobasket. It is safe to say that beating Team USA, even in its compromised state, would be the greatest accomplishment in Polish basketball history. It would be the sort of victory that helps launch a program and perhaps inspires young athletes nationwide to pursue basketball as a viable career choice. This game doesn’t mean all that much to Team USA in the grand scheme of things, but it could mean everything to Poland.
Game prediction, pick
Poland has far more to play for than the United States, but realistically, the talent gap is too big to credibly pick against the Americans. The question is what kind of margin the final score ends with. Team USA should win comfortably, but this is not going to be a 50-point walkover as their win over Japan was. Poland should keep things interesting at the very least.
Pick: United States 85, Poland 68