Team Australia just put the world on notice. They are coming for the gold medal after beating Team USA and ending a 78-game win streak.
Anybody who thought Team USA would cruise to a gold medal in the 2019 FIBA World Cup wasn’t paying close enough attention.
The first red flag was obvious when one week ago the Americans lost to a practice squad filled with NBA G-League players. Oh, and by the way, the deficit in that scrimmage was 36-17.
Team Australia didn’t lay that kind of a beatdown on Team USA, but they did enough to convincingly win, 98-94.
U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich might be secretly glad that his team got humbled during an exhibition game, because now they know there is no margin for error. He downplayed the loss afterward, but he also hopes that his players learned something in the process.
“Some of it is expected with a new group that’s trying to learn about each other and learn a system,” he said to ESPN. “So it’s not surprising. But the Aussies gave us a great lesson as far as where we want to be and how you have to play in this kind of competition.”
Team USA’s streak began with winning the bronze medal after losing to Greece in the 2006 world championship semifinals. Australia was 0-30 against the Americans in senior international play before Friday, and it’s good to see that they got the win in front of their home fans in Melbourne.
The Australians aren’t the only team hungry to take Team USA out of this tournament, though; Serbia, France, Spain and Greece all have talented rosters, and the Americans don’t have the luxury of letting a Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant take over games like in the past.
Here are some highlights of how it all went down.
Patty Mills was the Aussie’s hero in this one. He dropped 30 points, and he was clutch in the fourth quarter. To be fair, he probably didn’t call “bank” on that 3-pointer from the top of the key, but he did deliver Australia’s last 10 points. He will clearly be the player they lean on during crunch time of this tournament.
Team USA’s roster is now set after Kyle Kuzma withdrew due to an ankle injury, and they will next play Team Canada in an exhibition on Monday. If the Americans want to win this tournament, then they must dig a little bit deeper.