Well, this is certainly a humbling loss for Team USA — even if it’s just the exhibition.
If you went to sleep early on Friday night, it was probably for the best, as Team USA suffered its first loss in exhibition play with. a 98-94 defeat to Team Australia in front of a record 52,079 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. It snapped Team USA’s 78-game winning streak dating back to 2006 — the last time the Americans had lost a game in FIBA World Cup play.
It took a magnificent performance from San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, who represented his home country well with a ridiculous 30-point performance — including 13 in the fourth quarter alone — to carry the Aussies to a victory over Team USA just days after the Americans defeated Team Australia 102-86.
Team USA Hadn’t Lost a Game Since 2006
Although it’s an exhibition loss, this is a historic one — heck, Team USA had never lost a game against Team Australia entering this one. They were 30-0 all time against Australia. The last time Team USA had lost a game was during the 2006 world championship semifinals when they lost to Greece. They went onto to win the bronze medal, capping a mediocre six-year run in Team USA basketball history when they were historically bad.
In 2002, Team USA managed to finish in sixth place — the worst finish in the program’s history. When Team Argentina defeated the George Karl-led Team USA in the preliminary round group stage, they became the first team to defeat a USA team comprised of NBA players.
And of course, how can we forget about the “Nightmare Team” of 2004 which finished with a bronze medal — with Team USA suffering a 19-point loss to Team Puerto Rico, led by Carlos Arroyo. It was the worst defeat in international competition in Team USA basketball’s history.
Team USA Still Has Time to Rectify Things
Now while it’s too early to anoint this team as a failure — it is just the exhibition and this loss won’t officially count in the record book — it’s concerning that it’s a loss, period. Team Australia is a solid team, but they’re not exactly a powerhouse. Their best players are Patty Mills, a career role player on the Spurs, Joe Ingles and Andrew Bogut. Ingles is a role player for the Utah Jazz while Andrew Bogut is nearly 35 years old and at the end of his career after a number of serious injuries.
Regarding Team USA’s roster, we now have more clarity. After the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Kyle Kuzma was ruled out for the exhibition loss against Team Australia due to an ankle injury, the 12-man roster is now official — without Kuzma on it.
The official team roster will now comprise the likes of Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets), Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Celtics), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers), Kemba Walker (Celtics) and Derrick White (Spurs).
The team will be coached by five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich — who probably has more star power than any of the players on the roster.
Considering Team USA lacks star power — none of the game’s marquee players are on the roster — and their only All-NBA player is Walker, it’s safe to conclude that Team USA is at its most vulnerable since that bronze award finish back in 2006.
Thankfully, Team USA has one more exhibition with their matchup against Team Canada on Monday to get things back on track before they start the actual World Cup on Sept. 1 against Czech Republic.
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