After an exhibition loss to Nigeria over the weekend shocked the basketball world, the U.S. Men’s Olympic team lost another exhibition game on Monday, this time to Australia.
Now, these are just exhibition games ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. They don’t officially count for anything. But winning has come to seem like the U.S. Team’s birthright. It is the most successful team in international competition ever, winning medals in all 18 Olympic tournaments it has entered, including 15 golds. Given that record, dropping exhibition games to Australia and Nigeria is surprising.
It’s even more surprising when one considers that the U.S. is led by Kevin Durant, roundly considered to be either the best or the second-best player on the planet, while Australia is fronted by Patty Mills, an Austrlian-born pro who rides the bench for the San Antonio Spurs.
According to ESPN, “Team USA had been 54-2 in exhibition games since pros started playing in 1992. They’ve now doubled those losses in a span of three days.”
The U.S. led at the half 46-37 on Monday, but Australia scorched the U.S. 32-18 in the third quarter to lead 69-64 heading into the fourth. Australia was ahead 86-82 with 3:14 left to play when the U.S. called a timeout. Durant missed one of two subsequent free throws, making it 86-83. Australia answered right back to lead 88-83. The U.S. failed to score in the final minutes of the game, with Australia going on to make the final score 91-83.
Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers led the U.S. with 22 points, including 6-of-11 from three. Mills also had 22 for Australia. Durant had just 17 points.
Fans quickly took to Twitter calling on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led U.S. men’s national basketball team to three Olympic Gold medals, to come back and lend a hand ahead of Tokyo 2020 instead of Spurs coach Greg Popovich.
Team Nigeria, basking in its moment of glory, piled on with a tweet congratulating Australia.
Popovich, for his part, was not happy with the line of questioning at the post-game press conference.
The U.S. Men will take on Argentina at 3 p.m. PT on July 13, followed by a rematch with Australia at 3 p.m. on July 16 and Spain at 6 p.m. PT on July 18 before the team departs for Tokyo on July 19.
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