The U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team started the Tokyo Olympic Games like they started the eXhibition games in Las Vegas, with a loss. Despite having a seven-point lead with over three minutes to go, Team USA would fall to France 83-76 in Group A play Sunday night at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The loss snapped a 25-game Olympic win streak for the U.S. men.
NBA veterans Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, and Rudy Gobert inspired a late France comeback.
Fournier scored a game-high 28 points, while Gobert tallied 14 points and nine rebounds and provided an imposing presence inside for FIBA’s seventh-ranked men’s federation in the world.
Team USA would score only two points in the final three minutes and forty seconds of the game.
“We let one get away,” U.S. point guard Damian Lillard said. “There’s a lot of things we could have done better, including making shots.”
Coming straight to Tokyo after helping the Milwaukee Bucks win the NBA title on Wednesday, Jrue Holiday led the U.S. with 18 points, 12 of which came during a fourth-quarter burst that helped the USA take back the lead.
Holiday arrived at the team hotel early Sunday morning with fellow NBA Finals participants Khris Middleton and Devin Booker. However, Holiday still found the energy and aggression to help spark the U.S.
“We have to be more consistent,” Popovich said. “We had two nine-point leads and one 10-point lead, and then an eight-point lead at the end of the game, and we gave all of those up because of lack of consistent defense, too many errors, and on offense dry possessions where we didn’t move and took ill-advised shots.”
U.S. forward Draymond Green added: “We have to continue to get better. We haven’t been together that long, but we’ve been together long enough to have that consistency. We have to defend better down the stretch and close games out.”
Obviously, it’s disappointing anytime Team USA loses, but as stated many times, the world has caught up. Fortunately, for Team USA, they have two very winnable games against Iran on Wednesday and the Czech Republic on Saturday. They should have no problems making the medal round. From there, we’ll see what happens.