July 25, (THEWILL) – Since losing to Nigeria’s D’Tigers in one of their pre-Olympic exhibition matches in Las Vegas, it has been a downward spiral for the previously invincible US men’s basketball team who lost their first match of the Olympics to the French team 83-76.
The US team, viewed as medal contenders at the Games in Tokyo, Japan got off to a stormy start of the preliminary stages of the group round of games for Team USA’s men’s basketball first loss at an Olympic match since 2004, when it fell to both Puerto Rico and Lithuania at the group stage.
Since that loss, Team USA had amassed a 24-game Olympic winning streak before meeting the French team on Sunday. The result means the French have handed a second straight loss to the US in international play as France also prevailed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup meet.
The French therefore break a losing Olympic streak against the US as their regular matchups have been singularly one-sided. In the previous meetings at the Olympics, the US had ratcheted up a 6-0 victorious run against the French before Sunday.
At the forefront of the French triumph was Evan Mehdi Fournier. The 28-year-old led the way for France with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the floor, while Rudy Gobert added 14 points and nine rebounds of his own to one-up the Americans.
All together, the French shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor. In doing so, they outscored the U.S. 46-31 in the second half, while pursuing an impressive 16-2 run to close out the game and secure the win in the impressive finale of the fourth quarter.
Team America boasted the services of Jrue Holiday, who was coming fresh off helping propel the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship. Holiday led Team USA with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, which helped to keep them competitive.
To holiday’s contributions, Bam Adebayo added 12 points and 10 rebounds to the final US score, but all of which were insufficient in the end to push America past the solid French performance on the opening day.
As they did after the loss to Nigeria’s D’Tigers, Team USA, populated as they are with top quality from the National Basketball Association (NBA) will now have to immediately regroup before facing off against Iran in their second game in group play on Wednesday.
The loss to France may not be the best start or the ideal beginning for the US at Tokyo but in the way their counterparts, the female football team USWNT sprang back to trounce their second opponents after an initial loss, the basketball team can mount a comeback and bring their pursuit of a fourth consecutive gold medal back on track.