The USA basketball team lost its second exhibition game in a row, this time against Australia, 91-83. Gregg Popovich’s boys did something no other generation managed to do since introducing professional players in 1992.
Up until a few days ago, the USA had 54 wins and two losses in exhibition matches over the past 29 years. But suddenly, that record was worsened against Nigeria and now Australia.
The USA began this match much better than the rivals, the same as against the Nigerian team. They would have a double-digit lead, 11 points near the end of the first half, but that disappeared in the second 20 minutes.
Instead of breaking the Aussies, the same problem happened a few days ago, with the USA players fading away and losing grip in the finish. On the other side, Australia pumped up the tempo, mostly because of San Antonio Spurs‘ guard Patty Mills, who was the best scorer on the winning team.
Even though Popovich knows him very well, the veteran point guard dropped 22 points, had four assists, and was constantly attacking the basket, creating lots of troubles for the US team.
Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles had 17 buckets in almost 29 minutes of play, adding four boards and three threes. Philly’s Matisse Thybulle scored 12, and Chris Goulding added 11 buckets in 10 minutes on the floor.
On the other side, the Americans were led by Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant, who had the most points. Dame dropped 22, while Durant had 17. Bradley Beal contributed with 12, ad all other players were far below the expected level of play.
The US team had issues controlling the glass, with the Aussies rebounding 32 times, seven more than the USA. One other thing that was problematic for Popovich is the fact that the rivals scored 20 points more from the paint, 44-24, and not only that, but that the efficiency while doing the same was very high 22-for-35.
The lack of chemistry is pretty noticeable in the American team, and that is something Popovich will have to take care of pretty fast. Even though this team isn’t complete and lacks several more players, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of.
The USA meets Argentina in the next prep game before the Olympics in Tokyo this Tuesday.