- Samuel Rodriguez
USA Men’s Basketball loses and snaps a 25-game win streak
TOKYO- Team USA loses a tough one for the first time since 2004 against a strong France team 83-76.
Team USA had to prepare for a battle against NBA Defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert. Being undersized already they needed to pull together to make their game plan work. The effort seemed to be there all night, guys such as Damien Lillard and Bam Adebayo hustling and diving for balls left and right. The energy was there, and it seemed like the additions of the three NBA Finals players (Devin Booker, Jrue Holliday, Kris Middleton) helped a lot.
These three players made an impact right away. Landing late last night in Tokyo they were expected to be ready to play after that long flight. Booker and Middleton did not score a lot, yet they contributed another way. Defense and with their playmaking skills. Both players had a steal each with an assist. The main impact was with Holliday. Having himself a day, fresh off a flight with 18 points and seven rebounds. The defensive presence that Holliday brings to the table is what this team was missing. Holliday can guard the best player on the court every time, and still contribute big numbers on the offensive end.
Fouls were not USA's friend today. Superstar Kevin Durant had four fouls which limited him in a very close game in the fourth. This led to him never being able to find his rhythm in this game. Later at the end of the fourth Durant fouled out finishing with 10 points. After a great run in the second quarter for team USA it all seemed to go downhill in the third. Being outscored 25-11 in the third, USA just did not have the ability to shut down Evan Fournier (28 points). The paint was not friendly to the USA either. Losing the rebound battle 40-36, the height issues showed out.
Shooting needs to improve on this team, we saw a lot of threes being shot with a very low percentage. Shooting 33.3% from three as a team is not a good sign for a small ball team. With stars like Durant going 1-6 and Jayson Tatum going 1-5 from three you have a very low chance of winning.
France finished this game on a 15-2 run. With multiple chances to go up one with a minute left, the team could not make anything, the defense of the USA team was not there the whole time. There were points throughout the game where they seemed great defensively, and others where they could not make a stop. This team needs to find a way to overcome their small ball team and play bigger than they really are. The paint needs to be utilized more instead of all these three balls.
The next game for Team USA is July 27th against Iran. This will be team USA's time to show out. They need to show their defense and learn to use the paint a little more. Look for Durant to have a breakout game after this performance as well.