Gregg Popovich and the men’s US Basketball Team have not had the best of time of it of late. Having lost Bradley Beal before the tournament, and with a trio of key players involved in the NBA Finals, Popovich’s issues with the team were compounded by shock Olympic warm up defeats to Australia and Nigeria.
Those issues were further compounded earlier this week when Team USA were beaten by France in their opening game of the men’s basketball tournament.
It was Team USA’s first defeat in 25 games at the Olympics and their first since 2004 as the French ended up on the right end of an 83-76 scoreline.
Evan Fournier of the Boston Celtics top scored for France with 28 points, with Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert a key man scoring 14 points and also claiming nine rebounds.
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With the quarters at the Olympics slightly shorter than in the NBA (at 10 minutes as
opposed to 12), Team USA began the game well and by half-time, they had opened up an eight-point lead over France.
However, the third quarter proved decisive as Gobert and his team began to dominate and they outscored Team USA by fourteen points in that quarter alone.
Team USA were not helped by key man Kevin Durant being in foul trouble early in the game, which meant that he had to sit out at key points in the middle sections of the game.
Despite this, the United States did regain the lead by six points in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee Bucks star Jrue Holiday scoring 18 points in 28 minutes from the bench playing a key role in the comeback.
However, as France continued to score regularly, four open three-points attempts missed in the last 30 seconds of the game proved decisive as the French hung on to claim a key victory.
Next Up – A Must Win Game Against Iran
In the other game in Group A, the Czech Republic defeated Iran 84-78. Team USA will face Iran in their second game in the group knowing that only a win will be good enough in a game that is very likely to be feisty and fiercely competitive.
They then round off their Group Stage with a game against the Czech Republic on Saturday.
With the top eight teams from the three groups qualifying for the quarterfinals, Team USA know that two wins from their remaining group games will likely be enough for them to qualify for the quarters.
However, they cannot afford to slip up again, if for their morale and to foster more enthusiastic support from fans back home.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Team USA the massive -41 favourites to win the game against Iran and they are an incredible -8000 on the moneyline to land the victory.
Team USA are also still the -220 favourites to win the men’s basketball tournament outright although Australia +625 and Slovenia +850 have seen their odds come in, while Spain and France are both rated as +900 chances to win the tournament.