Friday Team USA narrowly escaped Serbia 94-91. Despite having at least ten players that are better than any one player on another team, the Americans have underperformed against their latest competition. After only separating themselves from Australia by ten points thanks to Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving, the USA put on another lackluster performance against Serbia.
After blowouts of China and Venezuela, Team USA looked primed to roll their way to a gold medal in the Rio Olympics. However, the Americans’ play in the last two games has been very disconcerting. Knowing there isn’t another team in the Olympics as good as the U.S. highlights the fact the Americans are dealing with issues of effort.
Team USA’s defense has been well below expectations, especially from the wing defenders. Guys like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler were expected to make their opponents struggle from the field. Instead, Team USA’s wing defenders have missed switches and struggled to fight through screens. They even managed to leave the game-tying shooter wide open for three. Luckily for the Americans, Serbia missed the shot.
In the end, Serbia would also come up short on their quest to upset the Americans. But what should have been a wake-up call against Australia was really a sign of what was to come. It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but team USA’s coaching staff has to make some adjustments on defense. At the very least they must inspire more effort out of the Americans. At this stage there should be no lack of inspiration for Team USA, but what they will need to do is humble themselves and fight for the gold. Every opponent they face will bring energy and intensity that they must match to avoid the same fate as 2004.
Irving led the U.S. with 15 points. DeAndre Jordan had 13. Durant, Anthony and Paul George each had 12.
Next up for the USABMNT is France Sunday, Aug. 14, 10:30 am.
USA Women’s basketball schedule: Sunday, Aug. 14, 8:15 am against China