American basketball fans have reacted with a degree of alarm after the Boomers handed Team USA their second consecutive loss in their Olympics warm-up matches.
Days after the perennial gold medal favourites were upset by Nigeria, the Boomers handed them another reality check in the form of a 91-83 win guided by 22 points from Patty Mills.
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Team USA used a 20-6 run to take control of the game early before entering the half with a nine-point lead.
Australia rallied and closed out the third quarter on a 19-6 run, capped by a Chris Goulding 3-pointer that give it a five-point lead headed into the fourth.
The Americans were held without a field goal and found themselves on the wrong side of an 11-1 run over the final 4:35 of the game, a drought that sealed the deal for the Boomers.
In addition to Mills' typical scoring outburst, Joe Ingles added 17 points of his own, while Matisse Thybulle and Chris Goulding combined for 23 points off the bench.
While Team USA steadied the ship by trouncing Argentina in their third practice game on Wednesday, the consecutive losses to Australia and Nigeria had plenty of pundits and fans questioning their preparation.
Veteran ESPN basketball reporter Brian Windhorst described the early returns as 'worrisome' and raised concerns over the overall construction of their roster.
“Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant combined to shoot 10-of-20 on this game; that’s supposed to be a win," he told SportsCenter.
“When they built this team, they built it small with shooting. They didn’t have any traditional centres … but they’re getting out-shot, and in this game, Australia killed them in the paint.
“They may win the gold medal … but if they do, it will be because they overcame adversity. And that’s not something we’re used to seeing from Team USA.”
There was a significant response to the loss from fans on social media as well.
this is embarrassing. every play we run is called “Dame, save us.”
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) July 13, 2021
1992-2019: @usabasketball went 54-2 in exhibition games with NBA players.
July 2021: 0-2.
Losing to an Aussie team flush with toughness, continuity and legit medal hopes is not surprising. But a far better response, especially defensively, was expected after the Nigeria loss.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 13, 2021
First Nigeria, now Australia, and this is the quote from Popovich: “I thought we got better tonight.”
Yo, Pop...this is Team USA. Not 3rd grade CYO. Raise the bar dude.
— Brandon Tierney 🎤 (@BrandonTierney) July 13, 2021
— Taco Trey Kerby (@treykerby) July 13, 2021
USA’s best 5 is KD, Dame, Beal, Tatum & Draymond.
Australia’s best 5 is Ingles, Thybulle, Mills, Delly & Baynes.
Losing to that team is just indefensible. https://t.co/3wy0zNsp1H
— nick wright (@getnickwright) July 13, 2021
Team USA coach Gregg Popovic in tense moment with reporter
Team USA coach Gregg Popovich had a tense exchange with a journalist following the team's shock upset at the hands of Australia ahead of the Olympics.
It was the second straight loss Team USA has copped against Australia, with the Boomers memorably recording their first ever victory over the perennial favourites at a 2019 exhibition match in Melbourne prior to the last FIBA World Cup.
It was after the game however, where the real fireworks began.
Despite Team USA still entering the Olympics as favourites, the successive losses in warm-up games lead The Athletic's Joe Vardon to question point guard Damian Lillard whether it was a different experience for him, having watched previous iterations of the US national team 'blow out' opponents regularly.
While Lillard gave a fairly diplomatic answer, Popovich weighed in before the next question could be asked - prompting a tense back and forth between himself and Vardon.
Gregg Popovich gets into exchange with reporter after Team USA's loss to Australia. pic.twitter.com/5XEp114qIh
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 13, 2021
“Let me also answer that question,” Popvich started.
“You asked the same sort of the question, the same family of question last time where you assume things that are not true. You just mentioned blowing these teams out. That’s never happened. So, I don’t know where you get that.”
A back and forth then erupted, with Popovich repeatedly asking 'can I finish?' before eventually giving a more full answer.
“So, you’ll be quiet now while I talk, then I’ll listen to you,” he said.
“When you make statements about in the past just blowing out these other teams, number one, you give no respect to the other teams; I talked to you last time about the same thing.
“We’ve had very close games against four or five countries at all these tournaments. So, the good teams do not get blown out. There are certain games that might happen in one of the tournaments — the World Championships or the Olympics — where somebody gets blown out. But in general, nobody is blowing anybody out from the good teams.
“So, when you make a statement like that it’s like you assume that’s what is going on. And that’s incorrect.”
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