First, it was Indianapolis. Then Seoul and Seattle. Now it’s Buenos Aires. The U.S. men’s basketball team has proved it can lose anywhere.
Led by Drazen Petrovic, Yugoslavia beat the United States, 99-91, Friday in the semifinals of the World Basketball Championships. It was the fourth consecutive major tournament in which the Americans have failed to win the gold medal, dating to the 1987 Pan American Games at Indianapolis.
Yugoslavia (6-1) will face the Soviet Union, which defeated Puerto Rico, 98-82, for the world championship Sunday.
The United States (5-2) will face Puerto Rico today for the bronze medal. Puerto Rico beat the United States, 81-79, Wednesday.
Friday’s game was a rematch of the Goodwill final in Seattle, an 85-79 victory for the Yugoslavs. Petrovic did not play in that game; he and Vlade Divac of the Lakers joined the team for the world championships. Divac, who fouled out, had seven points. Petrovic had 31 points in 31 minutes.
U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had no excuses. “I thought our team played very well. If we didn’t, we’d have lost by 30. I thought they were the best team and they played every bit like it today.”
Petrovic, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, is recovering from flu but still was impressive, finishing with six three-pointers. His final three-pointer, with 6:23 remaining, gave Yugoslavia its biggest lead, 90-71.
The United States came close several times but never pulled even, despite making 37 for 60 from the field. Alonzo Mourning led the Americans with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
It wasn’t just Petrovic who gave the Americans fits. Toni Kukoc, a second-round pick of the Chicago Bulls, had 19 points and nine assists. Zarko Paspalj, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs, had 15 points and made all three of his three-point shots. Reserve center Zoran Savic added 14 points.