Team USA falters in FIBA World Cup

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!

USA Men's Basketball Team rounding into shape

The watered-down USA Basketball Men's FIBA World Cup Team is trimmed to 13 players vying for the 12-man squad.

About to head to Australia for continued training, Team USA nearly has its final roster, though it may not be as impressive as usual. The men’s teams for the FIBA World Cup are typically not as stacked as the teams that represent the USA at the Olympics. Still, this squad boasts few All-Stars and is considerably thinner than many we have seen.

With the recent withdrawal of D’Aaron Fox, the 13 players striving to make this final cut are (per NBA.com): Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

The only All-Star names on the roster are Walker, Lopez, and Middleton, which may be considered by many to be “lesser” All-Stars at that. They even dropped a scrimmage to a squad made up primarily of G-League players.

Don’t get us wrong, this squad (minus one player TBD) is likely still going to enter the tournament in China as the favorites to win. Much of the team is made up of the Boston Celtics young core. Wing athleticism alone will give this group an edge over their competition in the form of Tatum, Kuzma, Mitchell, and Brown. Floor-stretchers Lopez, Harris, Walker, and Middleton will keep plenty of open lanes for them.

A few dedicated defenders will also help make up for weak points in the form of Smart outside and Turner inside. It will be a fun team to watch, if not who you may have been hoping for.

Some big names were thrown in the hat for this squad early such as James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and quite a few more. Why more household-name players have opted out is a bit perplexing. Fatigue from a long NBA season is likely a big cause - especially since many of the top player also experience lengthy playoff runs.

This will be a tremendous opportunity for the players involved (especially for the Celtics, since their starting lineup is essentially on the squad). They will get to practice against great caliber talent, travel, and have many unique and memorable experiences in China.

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will begin on Saturday, August 31

We will be tracking this team through the FIBA World Cup, so keep checking back here as always for updates!