Team USA Disappoints in the FIBA World Cup

During the FIBA World Cup, Team USA managed to lose two games and ended in an embarrassing 7th place.

Although Team USA ended in 7th, they qualified for the Olympic World Cup.

USA Basketball [Public domain]

Although Team USA ended in 7th, they qualified for the Olympic World Cup.

Team USA, although coming in with a worse team than usual, still had expectations to easily beat all of their competition in the FIBA World Cup. The team had a very young roster consisting of many young stars, like Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Myles Turner. Team USA also had Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton, both former all-stars from the 2019 season. Marcus Smart, who was on the 2019 all-defensive team, Harrison Barnes, Joe Harris, Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, and Derrick White made up the rest of the roster. Greg Popovich, Steve Kerr, and Jay Wright made up a very impressive and experienced coaching staff for this team. Greg Popovich is the San Antonio Spurs coach and also known as one of the greatest coaches of all time, Steve Kerr is the coach of the Warriors, who many see as the greatest dynasty of all time, and Jay Wright is the highly respected coach of Villanova, who has won two out of the last four NCAA tournaments. Looking at this roster, you would think that the US would yet again win the FIBA World Cup, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

To understand why team USA ended in 7th place, losing two games and one scrimmage, we need to evaluate their competition.

Team USA’s roster included four active Boston Celtics players.
Their first loss was actually a scrimmage against Australia. After beating them in a scrimmage two days before, the US yet again took the floor against them. Patty Mills, an Australian NBA player for the Spurs, led Australia with 30 points to beat team USA 98-94. This loss showed every country that, unlike most years, team USA had weak points this year. With no real superstars other than Kemba Walker, who underperformed in this tournament, the US didn’t have players who could put up major stats every night and lead them to first place.

Team USA seemed to learn their lesson from this game and went on to destroy Canada and the Czech Republic. They looked a lot better until their weak points were again highlighted by Turkey. They barely escaped Turkey only beating them 93-92 in overtime.

At this time, it was apparent that one of the major weak points was our young centers. This would later be obvious after Team USA’s loss to Rudy Gobert and France in the Quarterfinals of the FIBA tournament.

This basketball hoop is very similar to where everyone starts their journey on the court.

Rudy Gobert dominated in the paint with 21 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks and Evan Fournier had a team leading 22 points. It was no surprise that Gobert, who earlier this year won his second defensive player of the year award, played well against a team that lacked experienced centers.

After this loss the US went on to lose again to Serbia in the Classification Semifinals. Bogdan Bogdanovic, an NBA player for the Sacramento Kings, led Serbia with 28 points to a 94-89 win against the US. Team USA then beat Poland 87-74, ending in 7th place in a tournament that they were expecting to win. Even though other countries sent their best players and the US didn’t, this was still a very disappointing ending for the country that is known for basketball.

Mohammed Khadrane, a Lafayette student, reacts to Team USA losing to France.

Although Team USA didn’t win the FIBA World Cup this year, the players on this roster should be praised for playing for their country. While many of the biggest names in basketball prepared for next season, these players risked injury and lost preparation time to play for this team. Team USA didn’t live up to their expectations this tournament, but this was only to qualify for this Olympic games. Other players will definitely join Team USA to make sure that we don’t lose our title as the best basketball country in the world. Some of the players that are on the team now might not be on the team during the 2020 Olympics, but many of them will want to represent their country again.

This tournament was probably a good thing for all basketball fans, because it showed other countries that they do have a chance. It also allowed other nations’ growing basketball fanbases to see their own great players. This FIBA tournament will be remembered as one where other countries were able to play on the same level as the United States.