France Ends USA Men’s Basketball 25-Win Olympic Streak
The French men’s basketball team clinched an 83-76 victory against the US on Sunday, July 25, bringing an end to the Dream Team’s 25-game winning streak at the Olympics. The US still has a shot at the gold medal, but the road to it will now be a bit more complicated.
The American aura of invincibility in basketball seems to be fading away. Problems first began to surface when the US team lost its exhibition matches against Nigeria and Australia. After the Nigeria loss, coach Greg Popovich said that he was “kinda glad it happened” and that it “could be the most important thing” to happen to his team in the tournament.
If these defeats were supposed to stir up the sleeping giant, they’ve failed to do so thus far. Many things went wrong in their match against France. Kevin Durant, the team’s top player, had to miss most of the game due to foul trouble. He finished the game with a disappointing 10 points and 20 minutes of playtime. Damian Lilliard didn’t do any better, wrapping up with only 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting.
On the other hand, the French team put on a brilliant performance. The team’s guard, Evan Fournier, went on to score 28 points in the match, including a 3-pointer off a broken play with only a minute left on the clock. France was especially impressive in the final quarter, overcoming an 8-point deficit in the last four minutes of the match. This is in stark contrast to the US team, which missed its final nine shots, five of which were made within the span of 21 seconds.
After the match, Popovich said, “I think that’s a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the ball and win. We’ve got to work for it just like everybody else. And for those 40 minutes, they played better than we did.”
Evan Fournier, the star of the night, said, “They are better individually, but they can be beaten as a team.”
This was the US’ first defeat since the 2004 Athens Olympics, with yesterday’s loss being only their sixth Olympics loss out of the last 144 games. Team USA will be facing Iran on Wednesday and the Czech Republic on Saturday. After last night’s defeat, their odds on betting sites are bound to be slightly worse, but we still expect them to bounce back and chalk up two victories after a shaky start to their campaign.
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