No medal for Heat’s Spoelstra, as Team USA falls at World Cup; Jovic forced to settle for Serbia silver

There was no medal for Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and silver instead of gold for Heat forward Nikola Jovic as the World Cup came to a close Sunday in the Philippines.

Working as a Team USA assistant to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr in his ancestral homeland, Spoelstra saw his team of second-tier NBA stars fall for the third time in four games in the competition in Manila, this time 127-118 in overtime to Canada in the event’s bronze-medal game.

Afterward, Jovic and Serbia came up short in the gold-medal game, with Serbia falling 83-77 to Germany. Jovic closed the loss with nine points and eight rebounds.

Jovic, who opened eyes in the competition after a limited Heat rookie role last season, wound up falling in a championship event for the second time in three months, with the Heat losing the NBA Finals 4-1 in June to the Denver Nuggets.

Next up for Jovic is the Oct. 3 start of Heat training camp. Jovic’s competition for playing time in the Heat’s power rotation will be Bam Adebayo, Kevin Love, Orlando Robinson, Haywood Highsmith, free-agent addition Thomas Bryant and possibly Caleb Martin, who closed the playoffs as the Heat’s starting power forward.

Jovic said the event was rewarding and worthwhile.

“This means a lot to me,” he said. “It means a lot to me that I was with these guys and that I became a better person with them.

“It means a lot. Every medal means a lot of us. We’re a small country. We had a chance and we took it. We gave our everything.”

As for Spoelstra, Sunday’s Team USA loss left Canada with the bronze medal on the final day of competition in Manila and Spoelstra and Team USA only with a hope of something more tangible in next summer’s Paris Olympics.

“I feel bad for our guys.” Kerr said, “they really put so much into this for the last six weeks, an amazing group.

“Canada deserved it and congrats.”

For Spoelstra, whose mother was born and raised in the Philippines, it now is a three-week sprint until the start of training camp. The Heat then open their preseason schedule Oct. 10 against the Charlotte Hornets at Kaseya Center and their regular season Oct. 25 against the visiting Detroit Pistons.

It was the first stint of coaching on the FIBA international level for Spoelstra, who previously helped prepare the 2021 Olympic team for gold at the Tokyo Games by helping to coach in domestic warmup sessions for that event, the last for the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as Team USA coach.

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Team USA did not include any players from the Heat, with Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Love having previously won Olympic gold. Adebayo was a member of the Team USA roster in Tokyo and could return for next summer’s Olympics. Love also won World Cup gold in 2010 in Turkey.

Sunday’s loss to a Canada roster that featured former Heat big man Kelly Olynyk came in the wake of Team USA losses to Lithuania and Germany.

Team USA played Sunday in the illness absences of Paolo Banchero, Brandon Ingram and Jaren Jackson Jr.

“It’s hard,” Kerr said. “These teams in FIBA are really good, well coached, they’ve got continuity, and have played together for a long time.”

Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks led Canada with 39 points Sunday, supported by 31 from Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous and 23 from New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett. Brooks’ 39 were the most ever against a Team USA roster featuring NBA players.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards led Team USA in the loss with 24 points.

“It hurts,” said Team USA’s Mikal Bridges, the Brooklyn Nets forward, who intentionally missed a free throw and then converted a 3-pointer that forced overtime.

Several NBA players who bypassed the trip to the Philippines are expected to return to the USA Basketball fold for the Paris Olympics, although, at 34, the Heat’s Butler would appear a longshot for such an appearance.