2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Jayson Tatum out at least two games at World Cup
Celtics forward injured ankle in closing moments of Tuesday's win over Turkey
SHANGHAI — The United States Men’s National Team announced Wednesday that Jayson Tatum will miss at least the next two games with the left ankle injury that he suffered in the final seconds of the team’s 93-92, overtime victory over Turkey.
Tatum will be reevaluated on Monday, Sept. 9, the day that the U.S. plays its second of two second-round games.
After the Turkey win, Tatum lamented that going 2-for-3 at the line to tie (but not win) the game at the end of regulation eventually led to his injury.
“I’m still pissed I missed the second one,” he said before limping out of the arena. “Then I wouldn’t have got hurt.”
Here’s how the U.S. schedule looks going forward…
On Thursday, the U.S. will play its final, Group E, first round game against Japan in Shanghai. The Americans have already qualified for the second round, but the result of this game still counts in regard to qualifying for the quarterfinals out of the second round (where Groups E and F become Group K).
The U.S. will play two second-round games (in Group K) against the top two teams from Group F on Saturday (Sept. 7) and Monday (Sept. 9) in Shenzhen. With its win over Greece on Tuesday, Brazil has already qualified for Group K. The second team from Group F will be the winner of Thursday’s game between Greece and New Zealand. Joining from Group E with the U.S. will be the winner of Thursday’s game between the Czech Republic and Turkey.
The top two teams from Group K (combining results from the first and second rounds) will make the quarterfinals, playing next Wednesday (Sept. 11). The two Group K teams will be placed on opposite sides of the bracket, but they’ll both face teams from Group L, which is already set in stone: Australia, the Dominican Republic, France and Lithuania.
That is a very strong group, and one of Australia, France and Lithuania won’t even qualify for the quarters. It’s possible that the Americans would face a tougher opponent in the quarterfinals than they would in the semifinals.
Serbia (silver at both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics) remains the favorite among teams outside the United States. If both Serbia (already qualified for second-round Group J) and the U.S. finish first in their second round groups, they would be placed on opposite sides of the bracket. If one finishes first in its group and the other finishes second in its group, they would be on the same side, with a potential meeting in the semifinals.
The U.S. (playing every other day if they keep advancing) will hope to have Tatum back before then. He has shot just 7-for-22 (32 percent) in two games at the World Cup, but has been one of the team’s best generators of offense off the dribble, and he came up with a pair of big plays down the stretch of Tuesday’s victory. One of Joe Harris or Khris Middleton will likely start in Tatum’s place on Thursday.
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