The USA Basketball Men’s National Team have won 6 of the last 7 Olympic golds, losing out only in Athens 2004 during the span. However, their recent form and the opening round defeat to France are indicating an end to their dominance in world basketball.
Team USA headed into the tournament on the back of 2 losses in their four friendly matches and looked far from their usual dominant best. However, led by Kevin Durant, the team boasts a host of NBA superstars. The likes of Devin Booker, Chris Middleton, Jaysun Tatum and Damian Lillard were in excellent form in the NBA postseason. Booker played a starring role in the Phoenix Suns’ final run while Middleton and Holiday were two of the top performers for Milwaukee Bucks, the 2020/21 NBA Champions.
The winning streak ends!
Signs of a complicated Olympic campaign was on the cards after Team USA performances in the friendly matches. They played four games prior to travelling to Japan, losing to Nigeria and Australia in the first two matches. However, comfortable wins against Argentina and Spain in the subsequent games, coupled with the arrival of NBA finals participants in Booker, Holiday, and Middleton, had raised spirits.
Additionally, coming into the Olympics 2020, Team USA hadn’t lost a match in the Olympics since the semi-final loss in Athens 2004. They won 25 games and three gold medals in the span and were the bookies’ favourites to extend the streak. However, a horror show against France saw the streak coming to an end and also showcased some significant flaws in the side. Team USA led by 7 points after an excellent opening half that saw them score 45 points. However, a shocking 3rd Quarter saw France outscoring them by 14 points and eventually winning by 83-76. Team USA shot only 36.2% from the field and were especially poor inside the arc with only 40.5%, while France shot 46.8% from the field and 60% inside the arc.
The loss puts Team USA at the bottom of the group with two matches remaining. They face Iran next, followed by the Czech Republic. Even though both these sides lack France’s firepower, Team USA cannot afford another slip-up and need to be at their best. Despite the tough start, the sheer talent in the squad alone still makes Team USA the favourites to win their 4th gold on the trot.
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