Already seen as one of the weakest international rosters in almost 20 years, team USA will be playing in the 7th place game of the FIBA World Cup.
Dropping an exhibition game to Spain was not shocking for the men of Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup. What the United States is certainly not used to, was losing in the tournament, which it did against France… and then Serbia as well.
Even including Jayson Tatum, who has missed the last four contests with an ankle sprain, Team USA’s roster was much lighter on star-power than usual for international showings. It is still a potent team, featuring explosive guards and solid young talent. However, their lack of cohesion and stagnant offensive stretches caught up with them as they fell in the first non-exhibition match in years against France. USA had a 58 game win-streak prior to the loss.
Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert put on a clinic against the USA in the quarterfinals with 21 points, 16 boards, and three blocks, which came in clutch moments. The world has certainly caught up with USA, especially when they don’t show up with their “A” team.
France features just two other NBA players in addition to Gobert in Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum. Then, adding insult to injury, Team USA turned around and lost again, this time to Nikola Jokic and Serbia. They fell far behind early and never recovered. They are now set to play Poland in the 7th place game. Team USA will be heavy favorites in that one, but that apparently doesn’t mean much. This will be the worst-ever finish for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, win or lose.
France lost their following game, surprised by Argentina, which is doing well to remain relevant despite the retirement of star, Manu Ginobili. Argentina will face perennial contender Spain in the Final.
One interesting note is how the Utah Jazz have been represented in this tournament. Donovan Mitchell has been the scoring leader for Team USA, Rudy Gobert France’s driving force, Joe Ingles for a surprising Australia squad, and Ricky Rubio for Spain, though Ricky is now off to the Phoenix Suns.
It should be a good Final, but most fans are accustomed to seeing Team USA in contention. Perhaps Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics will produce a more competitive USA Men’s squad. We will see!