‘What the hell’: Team USA suffer humiliating 17-year Olympics first
Sam Goodwin· Yahoo Sports Editor
Team USA have suffered their first loss in Olympics basketball since 2004, going down to France on Sunday night.
The Americans suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France, losing at the Olympics for the first time since the Athens Olympics 17 years ago.
It was also just the sixth time Team USA have lost a men’s basketball game at the Olympics.
The French had upset the US when they last met in the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarter-finals and they had their number again on the first day of group play at the Saitama Super Arena.
France’s victory was powered by a game-high 28 points from Evan Fournier. Team USA swimmers hauled
in a total of six medals
“It felt good, it felt good,” Fournier told Reuters.
Moustapha Fall had high praise for his teammate.
“He is the offensive leader for us, always aggressive, always trying to score,” Fall said of Fournier.
“We knew he was going to be our leader offensively and he assumed this role, so he is good for us.”
The Americans got out to a good start in the first half, leading 45-37 at the break on the back of their defensive energy.
However they were outscored 25-11 in a disastrous third-quarter with France taking the lead.
Team USA clawed back to briefly regain the lead in the fourth quarter, but the French wouldn’t go away and took their first ever Olympic win over the United States.
Star US player Kevin Durant was saddled with foul trouble early and found it hard to get into a rhythm. He fouled out near the end of the game.
ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith was among the many in disbelief on social media.
“Okay! Now I’m getting concerned,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Although this loss is the one that counts, it’s still like 3 losses in their last 4 games. What in the hell is going on? Damn!”This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Team USA’s sketchy form continues
The USA had looked unconvincing in the build-up to Tokyo and the defeat will underline the fears Durant expressed before the Games that his side will not face a “cakewalk” in Japan.
The Americans now have a 138-6 record and have won gold 15 times since joining the Olympic program in 1936 – boasting more depth than any other country with their star-studded NBA line-ups.
But their recent form suggested reaching the top of the podium would not be as easy as in the past, after they dropped two-straight exhibition games this month including a surprise loss to world 22nd-ranked Nigeria.
Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton were finally able to join the team after the last game of the NBA finals on July 20. Holiday scored a team-high 18 points on Sunday despite having flown into Japan the day before.
Head coach Gregg Popovich said his team had to be more consistent, pointing to several leads they had let slip away.
“We gave all of those up. Because of a lack of consistent defense, too many errors on offense, possessions where we didn’t move and took ill-advised shots,” he said.
“So you understand it, look at it, put in the work and try to get better.”