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Steve Kerr laments slow start as US crash out of Basketball World Cup

MANILA – Head coach Steve Kerr said the United States failed to “set a tone” after they fell short of reaching the Basketball World Cup final for a second straight tournament on Friday.

The US lost 113-111 to Germany in their semi-final in Manila to leave them unable to atone for their seventh-place finish in China four years ago.

Germany were aggressive from the tip-off and maintained their intensity for the whole game, leaving the Americans chasing shadows with the seconds ticking down.

Kerr said the US “weren’t able to make them feel us defensively”, and lamented his players’ inability to match Germany’s strong start.

“I thought we made some mistakes,” he said.

“It sounds crazy but the first offensive rebound of the game we got boxed out. Right from the beginning you’ve got to set a tone.”

The US led by a point at half-time but let Germany take control of the game in the third quarter.

First Josh Hart allowed the ball to squirm out his hands for a turnover, before Jalen Brunson attempted a reverse pass that ended up out of bounds.

Germany took advantage to build a six-point lead, and finished the third quarter 10 ahead.

Kerr said he was pleased with his players’ response to falling behind but ultimately “we just couldn’t quite get there”.

“Every time we made a run, they hit a big shot or got an offensive board, made a big play – they did what they had to do,” he said.

“I’m really proud of our guys – they were courageous and fought and gave themselves a chance down the stretch.”

Anthony Edwards finished as the United States’ top scorer with 23 points, followed by Austin Reaves with 21 and Mikal Bridges with 17.

“Any time you lose, it sucks,” said Reaves.

“As a competitor, losing is the worst thing that can possibly happen.”

It was the United States’ second defeat of the tournament, having lost to Lithuania in the second round.

They will now face Canada for the bronze medal on Sunday, before Germany take on Serbia for the title later the same day.

Kerr said the tournament had still been worthwhile for his players.

“This is great high-level competition on the world stage,” he said.

“I think everybody on our team has loved being part of this.

“Part of competition at this level is you put your neck on the line.” AFP

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