France defeated Team USA today in their opening basketball Olympic contest 83-76. The loss for Team USA is the first in 17 years. Before this, they had won 25 consecutive Olympic basketball matches, dating all the way back to 2004. Team USA blew a lead as big as 10 this game after a disastrous second half. Evan Fournier led the way for the French, scoring 28 points and hitting a clutch dagger late in the fourth. However, many NBA players and coaches had something to say about the Team USA loss to France.
It's going to be pretty tough to win a game when your best performance came from someone who literally just arrived in Tokyo. Jrue Holiday lead Team USA in scoring with 18 points. He also added seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal. When Holiday was asked about his performance, he said,
"This is my first day. Literally, my first day." Jrue Holiday
The first-time Olympian won his first NBA title five days ago and gave his all in a tough loss against the French national team. He scored 12 of his 18 in the fourth quarter but wasn't enough to hold off the French.
Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich also had something to say about their defeat. Including exhibitions, coach Pop is now has a combined record of 11-6 while at the helm of Team USA. For reference, when Coach Krzyzewski was leading the team for over a decade, he had a combined record of 75-1. However, Pop shouldn't take any heat for Team USA's struggles. The talent around the globe is simply increasing generation after generation, America included.
The French national team is riddled with NBA talent. The team includes 2021 and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. In addition, NBA Player and French national Evan Fournier had a career performance leading France. The Americans had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play and were up with a minute-and-a-half left in the game. However, France played resiliently and showed team chemistry great enough to pull away with a victory.
Despite having superstars like Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant on the team, Team USA still faltered. Lillard only put up 11/3/3 and shot 30 percent from the field. KD dropped just 10/2/2 in his 20 minutes on the court as well. The team shot just 36 percent from the field as a unit. Dame had a lot to say about Team USA's past dominance and their struggles in Tokyo so far.
"I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start... I think that's why a lot of people will make it seem like the end of the world, but our job as professionals and this team and representing our country at the Olympics, we've got to do what's necessary and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish."Damian Lillard per Brian Windhorst