USA suffered their first loss in the FIBA World Cup over the weekend at the hands of Lithuania and Lakers guard Austin Reaves was a target since the opposition was mocking him.
The 110-104 defeat of the US came as quite a shock to the basketball world and unfortunately for Reaves, he had a rather forgettable game.
He recorded just seven points on 1-4 shooting and defensively was not able to lock anyone up.
The 25-year-old was very much a target for the Lithuanian team, so much so that USA head coach Steve Kerr took Reaves out of the game because of it.
Not only that, but he was being openly mocked by his opponents, especially by Vaidas Kariniauskas.
Vaidas Kariniauskas was acting tough against Austin Reaves 😮💨
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 3, 2023
“Nothing personal,” Kariniauskas told Nicole Ganglani after the game. ” It’s just love for the game. I played with his brother last year. I talked with him before the game. Also said it was “nothing special” and just trash talk part of the game.”
Since the dust has settled, Reaves had time to reflect on the game and was asked about the mocking the morning after.
“There’s been many times in my career where people looked at me sideways or done stuff so it’s basketball and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter,” Reaves told Ganglani.
Following the loss, Kerr didn’t mince his words.
“We didn’t play particularly well against Montenegro and we wanted to come out and play better but they just punched us in the mouth,” Kerr said. “I mean right away, they made every shot, they executed. I don’t think it was a case of us not being ready. It was a case of them playing the perfect first quarter and us understanding how hard we’re going to play to accomplish our goal.”
Team USA will get a chance to redeem themselves when they play Italy next, which will be sure to get fiery since USA rookie Paolo Banchero said he would play for Italy but then reneged to play for the US.