The late Kobe Bryant said in 2019 that the world has caught up to the United States in basketball. We haven’t seen whether the women’s basketball team will lose in friendlies and the Olympics, but we’ll find out in the next week once they begin their friendlies.
But Bryant’s certainly right in men’s basketball as the USA Basketball men’s national team lost to Australia in a friendly in Las Vegas, 91-83. The Americans are now 0-2 in friendlies.
The first half of this game wasn’t bad. The Americans led in the first half, 46-37 and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal scored 8 of his 12 points to lead Team USA.
Halftime leaders ⭐️@Dame_Lillard 16 PTS (4/6 3FG)@RealDealBeal23 8 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST pic.twitter.com/eJr5IfYycX— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 13, 2021
Beal shot 4-of-6 from the field and also made four free throws.
While the Americans looked better than they did last Saturday in their loss to Nigeria, the Boomers’ offense was real strong for the rest of the game. Patty Mills ultimately scored 22 points and helped them head into the fourth quarter with a lead for nearly the rest of the way.
Sure, Jayson Tatum made a late shots with under five minutes left, but the Americans had nothing left in the tank offensively.
TATUM FOR THE LEAD‼️— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 13, 2021
While they made some good defensive plays late to prevent this game from being a straight up blow out, Team USA was doomed.
For the Americans, Damian Lillard led with 22 points and Kevin Durant added 17. In addition to Mills, Joe Ingles added 17 points for the Boomers, who shot 52.9 percent in the game.
With this loss, let’s be frank. FIBA World Rankings mean little and the Americans are underdogs in Tokyo. If any national team has multiple NBA or EuroLeague players who have played together for a long period of time, that team has a chance to go far. The Americans don’t have that … at all.
We shouldn’t be talking about whether the Americans can win the Gold Medal in men’s basketball at this point……. (Yes, those periods are intentional.)
We should be talking about whether this team can even make the quarterfinals in the Olympics because the world has more than simply caught up.
If any country “half-asses” their way in FIBA competition, these losses are definitely going to be the result. That’s what we’re seeing in men’s basketball when Team USA takes the floor.
I don’t completely blame the players themselves for the situation, but they (and the organizers above) certainly have been very complacent over the past decade. Even while then-head coach Mike Krzyzewski led Team USA to three consecutive Olympic gold medals and two more World Cup championships, the Americans have gradually moved away from a “multi-year” commitment to the current hodge-lodge system they have right now.
I can understand a Team USA loss if the core of the team was together and they are among the best players in the country. But the Americans aren’t even close to doing that in the men’s game, and that’s not acceptable for me.
All that said, that’s another topic, for another day, after the Olympics end, whether Team USA is eliminated in group play, or miraculously wins a medal. And I said it: I just don’t see them winning a medal right now.
There are still more games left to play. Team USA will play tomorrow night in another friendly against Argentina, the top finisher in FIBA Americas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup where they were runner ups to Spain. They lost today to Nigeria in another friendly, 94-71, but given how poor the Americans have played in key moments, I’m calling the Argentines favorites in this one. Tip off is at 6 p.m. ET.