U.S. Falls To Brazil In World Cup Qualifier
The USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team still has work to do to secure its spot in the 2023 FIBA World Cup after losing to Brazil in Friday night’s qualifying game.
Langston Galloway led the U.S. in scoring with 14 points while Chris Chiozza contributed seven points and seven assists, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a strong Brazil squad. Led by Bruno Caboclo with 24 points, Brazil started fast and never looked back en route to a 94-79 victory in Washington, D.C.
U.S. coach Jim Boylen wasn’t afraid to go to his bench early, as 11 different players saw minutes in the first quarter. Chiozza was one of the guys who provided a spark off the bench with five points and a pair of assists in the opening quarter.
Brazil looked sharp right from the opening tip. Though the Brazilians built a 30-21 lead at the end of the first quarter, it was the second quarter that proved to be the decisive one.
Throughout the first half, Brazil found success by feeding the ball to its big men, particularly Caboclo, and getting to the foul line. Caboclo was one of the stars of the half, shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and knocking down 3-of-4 foul shots for 14 points.
Guard Georginho de Paula also shined for Brazil with 15 first half points. Like Caboclo, de Paula found his way to the foul stripe. In total, Brazil ended up shooting 20 free throws in the first half and hitting 17 of them.
“Winning the three-point line and winning the free-throw line is big at every level, but in this (FIBA) basketball with 77 possessions and 40-minute games, all those moments are huge,” Boylen said after the game, “and we have to do a better job.”
The U.S. played with much more energy in the second half, but every time the Americans chipped away at the lead, Brazil answered right back. This came despite some electrifying moments early in the fourth quarter, many of which were keyed by Galloway. Fellow Americans Charlie Brown Jr. and Alize Johnson helped chip away at the Brazil lead, each with 10 points on the night.
Although Brazil struggled to get to the foul line in the second half — it only had two free throws — the South Americans continued to hit enough shots from the field to stem the U.S. advances.
“We just talked at halftime and made sure we were going to bring some energy and play like we were supposed to,” said David Stockton. “… I think it shocked us in the first half a little bit, and we were able to at least bring some energy in the second half and cut it at some points, but we were never able to sustain enough stops to really chip into (the lead) where we wanted to.”
Afterward, Boylen was already looking ahead to Monday’s game with Colombia, which is also in D.C.
“We have to learn from this moment,” Boylen said. “It’s a two-game season. We’ve got a game Monday night, and we’ve got to get ready to play a good Colombia team. Nobody’s feeling sorry for us. We’ve got to keep working at it, and we will.”
This was the first matchup between the U.S. and Brazil in this qualifying cycle. The two countries will meet again in Brazil on Feb. 26 in the final game of the group stage for both teams.
Despite Friday’s loss, the U.S. remains the leader of its group with a 7-2 record and could still secure its spot in the World Cup by the end of this window.