Team USA could win its fourth consecutive Olympic gold next month in Tokyo. But if they do, it will be in a story of overcoming adversity.
The Americans lost their second consecutive friendly game on Monday, this time beaten by Australia 91-83, in Las Vegas. Since the 2019 World Cup, where it finished seventh, the United States team has lost four of its last five games. They have also lost two in a row to Australia, a team expected to compete for gold in Japan.
It was a better performance compared to the loss to Nigeria on Saturday, but just reading those words is shocking considering the hierarchy of the team and the coaching staff. Damian Lillard, who scored 22 points, and Kevin Durant, who scored 17, looked more like All-Stars, but couldn’t make decisive shots.
The worst came when there was a minute to go and the United States lost by five points; Jayson Tatum put the ball in the air on a 3-point attempt from the corner. It was better than the next possession, which resulted in a turnover.
The difference between the performances of both teams was evident. Time and time again, the Australians were able to throw passes into the paint, from the inside out, to dribble or put their teammates in matches with an advantage. Maybe it’s a bit early in this process for tough game planning, but it was clear that Australia felt it could take advantage of a relatively small team from the United States.
For the Australian team, Patty Mills, who has long been a star for her national team, added 22 points, while Joe Ingles totaled 17.