As the FIBA World Cup continues, Team USA finds themselves in an interesting position. They are fighting for seventh place when they are typically winning the gold medal. USA finds themselves in this scenario, as they did something they haven’t done in over 50 games: lose a game. Now, Team USA will play Poland in hopes of getting seventh place.
On Wednesday, USA lost to France 89-79. Despite 29 points from Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Team USA suffered a 10-point loss. Rudy Gobert, Mitchell’s Jazz teammate, helped France win with a double-double. Gobert finished the game with 21 points and 16 rebounds. He, along with players such as Evan Fournier and Nando de Colo, helped France give USA their surprising loss. This loss not only led to the end of USA’s 58-game win streak but it also knocked them out of medal contention. This marks the first time since 2006 that USA failed to capture gold.
USA’s loss to a talented team in France was slightly surprising, but their next game was even more surprising. They lost their second straight game, as they lost to Serbia 94-89.
In this game, Bogdan Bogdanovic 28 points as he helped Serbia pull off the win. Harrison Barnes led USA in points with 22 points, and they had contributions from other players, but Serbia was too much for them.
At the start of the summer, the U.S had several players being considered for the World Cup roster. Players such as Anthony Davis, James Harden, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and more were all set to attend training camp. However, several players decided to withdraw from training camp, and in turn, the World Cup. So, Team USA lacked most of its key players.
Team USA’s lack of players contributed to their performance, but there were more things in play. One of the reasons is the talent coming from these areas. With players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo playing for Greece or Nikola Jokic playing for Serbia, the rest of the world is becoming exceptionally talented.
On ESPN, Kobe Bryant spoke on the matter and was not surprised by the World Cup losses. He said the rest of the world is catching up to us.
“It’s not a matter of the rest of the world catching up to the U.S., it’s that the rest of the world has been caught up for quite some time,” Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone. They’re over, so it’s going to be tough.”
Team USA has a chance to end the World Cup on a bittersweet note as they play Poland. They finish with a win but end up in seventh place. This team had a difficult road but managed to play hard in the process. So, their performance is a setback but something that helps them grow.
The 2020 Olympics are the next time USA will play international teams. For a player, representing their country in the Olympics is a high honor, and they typically do so during this event. With Team USA’s performance in the World Cup, there is a good chance that the players who withdrew from training camp will be in attendance. Until then, this is a learning experience.
The players on this roster did what they could, and by the 2020 Olympics, they’ll be ready for the challenge.
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