The Olympic exhibitions are already upon us, and basketball fans are being riddled by Team USA’s unprecedented gameplay. Coming off of three consecutive gold medals in the years prior, the team was expected to excel as they faced off against opponents like Nigeria and Australia.
However, Team USA took back-to-back losses against both contenders. Whether or not this turn of events has affected the athletes’ morale, odds for the team’s positioning in the Olympic Games grow more unfavorable by the day.
An Empire Will Always Fall
USA basketball betting lines project a total beatdown from Team France in the US’ first official Olympic match of 2021. These changes in favorability are unsurprising, given the significant decline in Team USA’s efficiency.
But has Team USA been underperforming? Or have the team’s opponents simply stepped up to the plate?
It was certainly a disappointment for American basketball fans when the team failed to overtake Nigeria on Saturday. The US has historically pummeled the West African country when paired on the court, but this weekend’s outcome was not particularly shocking to those keeping up with Team USA.
In 2019, the US National Men’s Basketball Team finished seventh in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. While an additional year of training would ideally position Team USA to return to the front of the pack, fans have not been provided any evidence of drastic improvement.
Despite a loaded roster, decorated with All-Star names such as Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, the team simply is not demonstrating the cooperation necessary to secure a fourth consecutive gold medal.
Members of the team have formally addressed their unimpressive performance, highlighting their lack of practice together as reasoning for Team USA’s losing streak. Damian Lillard, Team USA’s point guard has said:
“These teams are experienced and they’ve spent a lot of time together…We are still working at becoming a team.”
Admittedly, the team displayed a more familiar style of gameplay when put up against Australia on Monday. They were able to maintain an 11-point lead throughout the first half. Nonetheless, Team USA lacked behind their Aussie adversaries and missed out on yet another exhibition win.
For team Australia, this outcome was expected. Small forward Joe Ingles remarked,
“No disrespect to them, they’re a hell of a team, obviously the guys they’ve got on their roster and Pop standing up there is always nice to see, but we came in here expecting to win the game and that’s what we did.”
Fortunately for the team, the Olympics have not officially started. The team still has nearly two weeks of practice and exhibition matches to improve before they fight for international acclaim in Tokyo.