The United States men’s basketball team at the Tokyo Olympics suffered their first defeat since 2004 and their quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal is already in doubt. The Dream Team’s bid for glory seems to be turning into a nightmare.
France – the team that sensationally knocked the Americans out of contention in the Basketball World Cup two years ago – dealt the US a major blow once again. Evan Fournier’s three-pointer in the final minute put France ahead in what became an 83-76 win over the Americans Sunday in the opening game for both teams.
The US had won 25 consecutive Olympic games, last losing at the Athens Games and settling for a bronze medal there.
It was a disastrous start for Team USA who despite having outstanding players like Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, struggled to dominate after initially taking control with an eight-point half-time lead.
But, with Durant in foul trouble early on, they could not maintain that momentum as a flat third quarter saw them score just 11 points.
Jrue Holiday, with 18 points in just under 28 minutes of action coming off the bench, was a bright spot in their struggles and helped them to a six-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But the Americans missed four open three-point attempts in the final 30 seconds to hand France the advantage and Boston Celtics guard Fournier led them to an impressive victory.
The Americans expect to secure a win against Iran on Wednesday, with France taking on the Czech Republic. The USA face the Czech Republic on Saturday. Going back to the World Cup in China two years ago, the Americans are 3-5 in their last eight games with NBA players in the line-up.
The loss doesn’t knock the US out of medal contention, but it essentially eliminates the margin for error. If they win their two Group A games the US will be in the quarter-finals. Lose another one, and the Americans may not even finish in the top eight of this 12-team tournament.