Mikal Bridges harbors no regrets in the wake of Team USA’s disappointing performance, which marked their second consecutive absence from the podium at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The American journey in the global competition came to an end with a heart-wrenching 127-118 overtime loss to Canada in the bronze medal match at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.
“Even though the outcome is not what we wanted, I wouldn’t trade away these six-seven weeks for nothing,” said Bridges, who finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the loss.
The emerging star from the Brooklyn Nets provided Team USA with one last glimmer of hope as he retrieved his own missed free throw, swiftly returned to the corner, and drained a crucial three-pointer that knotted the game at 111-all with a mere 0.6 seconds remaining.
“Coach told me to miss the second one and I just tried to miss it right.
“That’s kind of where you want the ball to be at kind of in situations like that. I just read and reacted and saw and just chased after it. There was low time and I just went and shot it,” recalled the former Phoenix Suns forward..
However, Canada seized control early in the extra period, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks taking turns, propelling their team to a 121-115 lead with less than two minutes left on the clock.
RJ Barrett then delivered the final blow with a pivotal three-pointer, ultimately dashing Team USA’s hopes of redeeming their disappointing campaign with a bronze finish.
“Just defense. I think we didn’t get enough stops.
“They had a rhythm, but we just fought till the end. I can take that with me after this. But it hurts,” said the 27-year-old product of Villanova.
Despite the unfortunate conclusion to their campaign, Bridges remains appreciative of the opportunity and the valuable experiences gained. He also conveyed his willingness to answer the call should USA Basketball summon him to represent the nation at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.
“I just think the biggest takeaway is just the relationships I built with everybody, the coaches, and my teammates, and everyone else on staff. That’s all I take from it, just all the relationships I made from this,” he said.
“Yeah, I think I’ll never say no. It’s an honor every time.”