WASHINGTON (AP) — USA Basketball still has some work to do before clinching a berth in next year’s World Cup.
Bruno Caboclo scored 24 points, Georghino De Paula added 18 and Brazil greatly improved its chances of making the 32-team World Cup field by beating the U.S. 94-79 in a qualifying game on Friday.
The U.S. would have wrapped up a World Cup spot with a win. The Americans play their next qualifying game Monday in Washington against Colombia — and now might not clinch a World Cup berth until the final qualifying window in February.
“You have to give them credit," U.S. coach Jim Boylen said. “They played well, they executed well and their size and physicality bothered us. We've got to learn from this moment."
Langston Galloway led the U.S. with 14 points, while Charlie Brown and Alize Johnson each scored 10.
The U.S. still controls its destiny regarding qualifying.
The Americans lead Group F with a 7-2 record, one game ahead of Brazil (6-3). Mexico moved to 6-3, with an 80-60 win over Uruguay (5-4). Also Friday, Puerto Rico moved to 5-4 with a 91-79 win over Colombia (3-6).
All the U.S. needs to do is finish in first, second or third place to automatically qualify for the World Cup. The Americans have three qualifying games remaining — one Monday, then two more in February, those being games against Uruguay and Brazil.
Brazil never trailed Friday, leading by as many as 25 points and taking a 58-34 lead into halftime.
“I did not like the way we started, a 30-point first, a 58-point half,” Boylen said. “I thought they hurt us at the defensive end.”