With just three seconds remaining in a tightly contested overtime match-up against Turkey, Jayson Tatum charges down the lane with a patented sense of gracefulness, patiently collapsing the Turkish defense before threading a routine bounce-pass to teammate Khris Middleton. It’s a play that’s been executed a thousand times before, and Bugrahan Tuncer bites on Middleton’s shot, gifting Team USA two free throws and a win that they definitely did not deserve.
Unfortunately, that routine bounce-pass did not have a happy ending. Jayson Tatum landed awkwardly on his left ankle, rolling it in a painful fashion that basketball players everywhere have experienced before. The 21-year-old doesn’t miss a beat, gingerly leaping away from the action and testing his weight on the injured ankle, before being helped off by the Team USA training staff.
The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, and Tatum stated as much in a text to Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens after the game. According to Brian Windhorst at ESPN, the current diagnosis is a mild left ankle sprain, which will be re-evaluated Wednesday. Tatum had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the 93-92 win.
As for Team USA, things are looking quite bleak. Tatum’s injury trims the roster down to 12, and takes away one of the team’s leading scorers throughout the tournament thus far. Turkey fumbled away Tuesday’s game, missing four straight free-throws and committing two very questionable fouls on defense, which in turn gifted Team USA free-throws to both extend the game to overtime and eventually escape Shanghai with a win.
Team USA will go on to play Japan on Thursday in the final game of the tournament’s preliminary stage.