It’s been 17 years since Team USA took a loss on the basketball court in the Olympics. With 25 wins in a row, en route to three Olympic golds (2008, 2012 and 2016), the Americans were a heavy favorite heading into Tokyo. But that all changed with an 83-76 loss to France on Sunday, July 25.
The team’s star-studded roster includes Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, Kris Middleton and Zach Lavine, among a slew of others. However, their talent and athleticism failed them down the stretch of their first game in group play. Greg Popovich, who has coached Team USA to a 6-3 record since taking the helm, has been testy since exhibition play, where the team lost two games heading into the games. His tenor did not change when asked if there was any reason to be surprised that they lost after being so dominant for so long.
“There is nothing to be surprised about,” he told a Joe Vardon from The Athletic. “They knocked down some 3s down the stretch and we made some mistakes. As Draymond (Green) said, we had (a seven-point lead) late in the game and we gave up 3s, so those are mistakes by players. Those things happen. But if we can be more consistent during the game, we wouldn’t have been in that position. When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed.”
In his report, Vardon explained that the players are “frustrated” and were “grumbling” on their way to the locker room after the loss. Apparently, they feel there are better ideas and options than running the “San Antonio offense.”
Pop added: “I think that’s a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the balls and win. We’ve got to work for it just like everybody else. And for those 40 minutes, they played better than we did.”
While Team USA has mostly dominated international play for nearly two decades, it is no secret the world is catching up. Team USA looks to get back on the winning track this Wednesday against Iran.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 25, 2021
US men’s basketball team beaten by France -first Olympic loss since 2004https://t.co/uatz5kdEGp
— Game Yetu (@GameYetu) July 26, 2021