Photo: FIBA

Steve Kerr still sees a silver lining in general coming through the United States’ epic downfall for contention at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Shortly after he and Team USA were stunned by Germany for the right to advance to the final round, Kerr acknowledged that the game of basketball is finally reaching the epitome of international influence over the years.

“It means the game has been globalized over the last 30 years or so,” Kerr said. “These games are difficult. This is not 1992 anymore. So players are better all over the world, and teams are better. It is not easy to win a World Cup or an Olympic Games.”

The Americans won’t finish at the top among 32 participating nations for the second-straight World Cup. Out of the last five FIBA Championship events, the powerhouse squad only attained two gold medal triumphs.

Bannered by Anthony Edwards, the United States has sent a young, but promising roster filled by rising stars from the NBA at this year’s World Cup campaign. Despite falling miserably at their Group Phase finale against Lithuania to finish their pool play with a 4-1 record, the Americans regained their robust footing at the knockout stage by thrashing Italy to enter the Semis round.

But on Friday, the road towards the coveted gold medal came to a bitter end for America as Germany emerged as a much superior semifinalist courtesy of Dennis Schroder, Daniel Theis, and Franz Wagner. But over these three notable NBA stars, Andreas Obst stood up at the front of the scoring department for the Germans as the sharpshooting swingman poured 24 markers and buried four huge triples.

As their hopes for a gold medal turned to ashes, Kerr and his U.S. squad can only settle for the upcoming bronze medal match on Sunday with Canada – another nation that features plenty of high-profile NBA stars such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett, and Dillon Brooks who fell in the hands of a superb Serbian team led by Bogdan Bogdanovich.

But regardless of the swirling disappointment as they settle to an unexpected place to conclude their World Cup assignment, Kerr still has nothing but love and appreciation for his particular U.S. group.

“I think this is a great experience for all these players. Not only to represent the country, but also to advance their own individual careers. This is great, high-level competition on the world’s stage. So I think everybody on our team has loved being part of this, and part of the competition at this level is you put your neck on the line,” Kerr said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys how hard they played, how they approached these last five weeks in practice, put in all the work. This team is very worthy of winning a championship, and we just didn’t get it done. But as a coach, you recognize what kind of team you have, and we immediately recognize that this group is amazing. And the commitment to each other to the team, to represent the country well, they are incredible.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of them.”