With just a week left before the beginning of the FIBA World Cup, Team USA made the wrong kind of history against Australia on Saturday.
The Americans suffered a 98-94 exhibition loss to Australia in front of a massive crowd at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
Per the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver, it was Team USA’s first loss in 13 years. The Americans had previously been on a 78-game winning streak in major international exhibitions and competitions going back to the 2006 world championships.
The win also snaps a 66-game losing streak for Australia against the U.S.
Leading the way against a U.S. team publicly diminished by NBA star departures was San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, who dropped 30 points on his coach for eight NBA seasons in Gregg Popovich.
Among the other stars for Australia were Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (15 points, seven assists) and former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (16 points, nine rebounds). The win is a reversal of the teams’ previous meeting on Thursday, when the Americans won 102-86.
Time to panic for Team USA?
It would take a catastrophe of epic proportions for Team USA to not be considered the favorite for a major international basketball tournament, but this was a development the team really didn’t need.
The prevailing narrative around the team for the last two months has been that no NBA stars want to play for it. Team USA still managed to keep studs like Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and Milwaukee Bucks small forward Khris Middleton, but that group doesn’t look so unbeatable without the likes of James Harden or Anthony Davis.
Add a scrimmage loss to a group of players on the fringes of the G League, and you have a team that might suddenly have something to prove in China next month despite having by far the largest collection of NBA talent in the field and a Hall of Fame coach in Popovich.
The Americans have just one tune-up game remaining before things get real at the World Cup, a game against Canada in Australia on Monday.
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