Team USA should’ve lost to Turkey in their second group-stage game today at the FIBA World Cup, and though they were handed a 93-92 win by some last-second incompetence, the victory may have come at a price. On the very last play of overtime, Jayson Tatum sprained his ankle after throwing a pass and running into the lane. He was officially diagnosed with an ankle sprain, and he’ll be evaluated tomorrow, though he does not have a “bad limp.”
Tatum, who has been one of Team USA’s most important players, logged 11 points and 11 boards in his 31 minutes against Turkey. With coach Gregg Popovich feeling shaky enough about Myles Turner and Brook Lopez to use Khris Middleton and Tatum as emergency centers against Turkey, Tatum’s size will be important for a team that may have to go through Serbia’s imposing frontline. Tatum also manufactured the points that sent the USA to overtime, when he stuck his leg out on a three and hit two free throws to tie the game at 81 with 0.1 seconds left.
Turkey held a one-point lead with nine seconds left in overtime, yet Dogus Balbay and Cedi Osman each missed two free throws to give Team USA a chance they didn’t deserve. After Tatum rebounded the fourth consecutive miss then ran down and hurt his ankle, Khris Middleton nailed a pair of free throws to secure the win. This strategy will not work against better teams than Turkey.