Winless departure of the US stars. / Picture: REUTERS
The big gold favorite USA suffered their first defeat at the Olympic basketball tournament since 2004. In the top game of preliminary group A, coach Gregg Popovich's team lost 76:83 (37:45) in Saitama France on Sunday. This meant that the weak Americans could not take revenge for the bitter quarter-finals at the 2019 World Cup against the French at the start in Japan.
In addition, they lost for the first time since losing the semi-finals in 2004 in Athens against Argentina and 25 games en suite again at the Olympics. The best US throwers were Jrue Holiday (18 points) and Bam Adebayo (12). Evan Fournier led France to deserved success with 28 points.
Although spectators are banned due to the strict Corona restrictions, the main stand was noticeably well filled with journalists and media workers. At first they got to see concentrated Americans who sovereignly gained a lead in the first half. US superstar Kevin Durant, however, made many fouls early on and could only be used in doses. After the break, France became much stronger and led 62:56 before the final quarter. The US could not catch up with that.
After the Olympic victories in 2008, 2012 and 2016, the US stars are in for the fourth gold in a row in Tokyo. However, the first in the world rankings does not have the best cast and has to do without greats like LeBron James. In the preliminary round, the outsiders Iran and the Czech Republic are still about to make it to the quarter-finals.