Jayson Tatum injured as Team USA barely survives in OT (Reports).
Team USA escaped with a win against Turkey at the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday but might have lost one of their best players in the process.
The Americans were far from their dominant form of previous years, needing overtime and quite a bit of luck to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Turkish national team.
With Team USA trailing 92-91 with just seconds remaining in overtime and Turkey at the free-throw line, it looked like the game was all but over. But Turkey could not close out the game, missing four consecutive free throws in the final nine seconds.
That final miss was enough of a lifeline for the Americans to grasp, with Jayson Tatum grabbing the rebound and driving upcourt. He dished the ball to Khris Middleton, who was fouled on his shot and drained his two free throws to give Team USA its second win of the group stage.
But while the last-second heroics were a reason to celebrate, they came at a price for an already short-handed Team USA.
After dumping the ball off to Middleton, Tatum landed oddly on his ankle and could be seen limping out of the way of the play. He would be helped off the floor with a sprained left ankle, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
After the game, the severity of Tatum’s injury was unclear. He’s due to be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
Regardless of how severe the ankle injury is though, it is cause for concern for an American side that is already missing many of its best potential players, who have instead elected to rest up and train for the upcoming NBA season on their own.
Team USA is 2-0 so far in the tournament, but as the test against Turkey proved, the team is more vulnerable to an early exit than any time in recent history.
They’ll play Japan in their final game of the opening round of the tournament on Thrusday.