JapanThe world’s number one team lost to France 76-83 in the top match of Group A at the Tokyo Olympics, on the evening of July 25.

The US basketball team lost for the first time since the 2004 Athens Olympics, also the third defeat in the last five matches of coach Gregg Popovich’s team. The number one candidate for the Olympic gold medal lost its rhythm in the third round, after leading the opponent by eight points at half time. The hero of France – pitcher Evan Fournier – scored 12 points in the third half and 28 points the whole game. He is playing for the Boston Celtics in the NBA.

Damian Lillard (No. 6) plays poorly with a success rate of less than 30%.  Photo: ESPN

Damian Lillard (No. 6) plays poorly with a success rate of less than 30%. Photo: ESPN

The stars of the US side woke up in the first half of the fourth half when they took a seven-point lead after seven minutes of this round. But in the last more than three minutes, they only scored two points. Two pillars, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, repeatedly failed to throw in a comfortable position. On the defensive front, the five fouls caused Durant to leave the field and could not contribute to the US in the last minutes.

France scored 16 points in just over three minutes to create the most unexpected victory in the first match. Although ranked seventh on the rankings of the World Basketball Federation, France is far behind the US in terms of the level of stars. Besides Fournier, the European representative only had Rudy Gobert as a fulcrum in the squad. The best defensive player in the US professional league last season shone in the area under the basket, thanks to the Olympics without the three-second rule like the NBA. The 2m16-tall striker scored 14 points and had nine rebounds in this game.

The fact that a substitute player like Jrue Holiday scored 18 points – the most of the team, shows that the main stars of the US have fallen dramatically. Durant only scored 10 points, Lillard had 11 points and striker Bam Adebayo scored 12 points.

Losing the first match was not a disaster for the US. They still have two more matches in the group stage, facing much weaker opponents, Iran and the Czech Republic. Even with the third place in the group, the US can still go through if it is one of the two high-performing third teams. However, the pressure is on the shoulders of Durant and his teammates. The consecutive loss in the past two weeks also shows that the tactics of veteran coach Popovich have problems. The United States has won three Olympic gold medals in a row, but in all three times, they have won all of them.

Nhan Dat

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