The last time something like this happened, USA Basketball unleashed its fury on the world.
Embarrassed on the international stage in 2002, 2004 and 2006 — a sixth-place finish in the FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis with a lackluster roster, a bronze medal in the Athens Olympics, perhaps a nadir for the program, and a semifinal loss in the FIBA World Championship in Japan — the disappointments served as the catalyst for the 2008 “Redeem Team” at the Beijing Games and more than a decade of pure domination: a 58-game winning streak with USA rosters featuring the biggest names in the sport.
This week, that dynastic period ended: On Wednesday, Team USA lost for the first time since 2006 in an international tournament. The next day, it lost again.
Wednesday’s 89-79 loss to France in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals eliminated Team USA from medal contention, and the group followed with a second loss Thursday, 94-89, to Serbia. The Americans can now place no higher than seventh in this World Cup. Team USA was burned Thursday by Sacramento Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic (28 points, six assists), while Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had a relatively modest impact (nine points, seven assists). Bogdanovic’s NBA teammate Harrison Barnes led Team USA with 22 points, and Kemba Walker added 18 points and eight assists.
Such a disappointment doesn’t qualify as a surprise. This version of USA Basketball was noticeably bereft of star power — while the 2008 national team fielded 11 all-stars and a league MVP, this summer’s roster featured just two current NBA all-stars and probably (at best) three future all-stars. None of them should be considered a surefire (or even probable) Hall of Famer at this point.
In this age of load management, the marquee names that populated past tournaments largely stayed home to prepare for the upcoming NBA season, leaving Coach Gregg Popovich as Team USA’s biggest star. (No offense to Walker.)
Then there were the early signs of structural instability — a bizarre scrimmage defeat to a group of NBA hopefuls and hangers-on final month, a loss to Australia in a International Cup tuneup recreation on Aug. 24, and an time beyond regulation win towards Turkey in staff play that virtually unquestionably must were a loss on Sept. three. The losses uncovered intensity problems, specifically some of the group’s large males and out of doors shooters. And an ankle sprain for Jayson Tatum, who might be any place from Crew USA’s preferrred to fifth-best participant, relying at the day, compounded most of these problems and briefly made some stars glance sensible for skipping the match.
So, as many feared, the group that traveled to China merely wasn’t just right sufficient, now not when the remainder of the sector has gotten markedly higher. Serbia gained with an MVP candidate (Jokic) and 4 different present NBA avid gamers. France rolled out six present or former NBA skills, together with a two-time defensive participant of the 12 months (Rudy Gobert). Walker, in the meantime, served as Crew USA’s alpha canine, flanked via Milwaukee Dollars all-star Khris Middleton and a trio of promising puppies (Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Jaylen Brown).
Reward the blokes who confirmed up for Crew USA, as a result of they did precisely that, not like many others. However with the American citizens already locked into a place for subsequent summer season’s Tokyo Olympics, it’s now time to marvel what the reaction to those losses will probably be.
Popovich, as positive of a basketball legend as there may be, has further motivation to get this group again to the highest. He’s in some way nonetheless chasing nationwide group luck, after serving as an assistant at the disappointing 2002 and 2004 groups.
“I nonetheless haven’t gotten over [Athens],” 2004 head trainer Larry Brown informed the New York Occasions, “and I’m positive Pop hasn’t, both.”
Will probably the most guys who dropped out this summer season — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Tobias Harris, De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Love, CJ McCollum, and so forth. — be tempted via a shot at an Olympic gold medal and the truth that the group obviously wishes their assist to reestablish its dominance?
Is any other Crew USA renaissance in retailer? Can we see a Redeem Crew 2.zero in 2020?
The American citizens may also be upset via this summer season’s outcome, however now it’s all about how they reply in 2020.
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