USA Basketball woes continue as women drop scrimmage to Australia

·2-min read

Team USA is still the strong favorite to take home gold in both men's and women's basketball at Tokyo, but it's getting harder and harder to ignore their stumbles.

The latest negative development came on Friday, when the women's team lost an exhibition game 70-67 to an Australian team missing its star player in Liz Cambage, who announced her withdrawal from the Olympics the night before.

In Cambage's absence, 21-year-old Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor stepped up to post a team-high 17 points, five rebounds and three steals, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. As a team, the Americans shot 37.3% (and 2-of-18 from deep) while committing 18 turnovers.

In short, Team USA looked like it has a lot of work to do. That's been something of a theme since the Olympic exhibitions started.

Team USA isn't looking so hot

The USA men's and women's teams are now collectively six games into their pre-Olympic exhibition schedule. The results so far: one win, four losses and a cancellation in fear of a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

The federation's Twitter account has been nothing if not consistent in its handling of the losses:

So far, the lone USA win came from the men against Argentina on Tuesday. The men's fourth exhibition game was scheduled to take place on Friday, as well, but USA Basketball canceled it "out of an abundance of caution" after guard Bradley Beal entered COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols.

Of all the losses though, Friday's might have been the most shocking. As strong as the USA men's team has been since the advent of the Dream Team, the women's team has even more dominant, winning every Olympic gold medal since 1996 and all but one FIBA World Cup in that span. It won the 2016 gold medal game by 29 points over Spain.

The USA women's team is a -800 favorite at BetMGM to win the Olympic gold medal, while the men's team is a -400 favorite.

The USA women opened their exhibition schedule with a loss against the remaining WNBA All-Stars, but that was at least explainable because their opponents were all, well, All-Stars. Australia is ranked second in the world by FIBA, but losing to them without Cambage can only be a red flag.

Both the men's and women's teams each have only one exhibition remaining on their pre-Olympic schedule, with women facing Nigeria on Sunday and the men facing Spain hours later.

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