Team USA Men’s Basketball loses to Australia, second straight loss

(LAS VEGAS) — The USA Men’s Olympic basketball team lost to Australia 91-83 in Las Vegas Monday night. 

It was the second straight loss for the team after losing to Nigeria 90-87 on Saturday. Entering into Saturday’s game, Team USA was 54-2 since 1992 when professionals started playing. 

Team USA has lost four of its past five games dating back to the 2019 World Cup, according to ESPN.

Portland Trailblazers guard Damien Lillard led Team USA with 22 points, with 18 coming on three-pointers. San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills paced Australia with 22 points. 

Winning a fourth straight gold medal is going to be a challenge, according to Lillard. 

“These other teams and these other countries just continue to improve, said Lillard, “These players, they get better, they get more confident and they also want to beat us badly. It’s definitely noticeable when you’re on the court.”

The Americans led 46-37 going into halftime and gave up just 13 points in the second quarter. The second half was another story with Australia scoring 54 points, including 32 in the third quarter. 

“In the first half, we defended the way we wanted to defend, the way we did not defend against Nigeria. We were more physical. We sustained the defense longer. We rebounded better. We moved the ball better at the offensive end and had more pace,” said Team USA head coach Greg Popovich. “In the second half, we tired out and when that happens we got hit mentally a little bit too, and we didn’t sustain the boards the same way. The defense wasn’t the same. Our pace wasn’t the same.” 

The team opened training camp on July 6 in Las Vegas following shortened offseason, a 72 game NBA season, plus playoffs series for several players. 

“We got to get some guys that have to get their legs and rhythm back, but in general we need more conditioning, which is totally understandable,” said Popovich, also the San Antonio Spurs head coach. “We’re just sticking with the process to try to get better with every game, and we did that tonight. So, I was pleased with what we saw.”

With the NBA Finals underway between Phoenix and Milwaukee, Suns guard Devin Booker and Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and forward Kris Middleton have not joined the team. 

The Americans face Argentina Tuesday afternoon.

Team USA begins its quest for a fourth straight gold medal on July 25 against France.

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