Wow, remember when Team USA was devastated when they only won bronze at the Olympics in 2004 after finishing sixth, out of the medals, in FIBA World Championships in 2002?
Well, now they’ve done it again.
Nearly a dozen of the best American players took the summer off for various reasons, including the Suns Devin Booker, and now the depleted Team USA came up short in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA’s today.
Team USA lost to France in the quarterfinals today, 89-79, as guards Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell came up short in the fourth quarter. France went on an 11-0 run to go from a 76-71 deficit to a 82-76 lead and never looked back.
Team USA will now play a consolation game or two to decide their final spot in the standings, which cannot be any higher than 5th overall.
In Team USA’s defense, this team was cobbled together at the last second while other international teams have developed together for many years. Yes it’s NBA players, but if they don’t really know each other well it’s tough to excel against high level competition.
France was led by NBA players Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum and Frank Ntilikina, as well as former NBA player Nando de Colo. This team has played together for many years, for example. Suns guard Elie Okobo was the final cut from the French team that will fight for a medal while sending Team USA home for training camps.
Team USA was missing so many of its best players this summer. Those who pulled out of the competition months ago include Devin Booker, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris, De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Julius Randle, Eric Gordon, Montrezl Harrell, JJ Redick, Andre Drummond and C.J. McCollum. Other players withdrew early or late due to injury, including a pair who just played in the Finals a few months ago: Kevin Durant and Kyle Lowry.
Players not even discussed this summer for some reason, as far as I can tell, include Finals hero Kawhi Leonard and former hero Stephen Curry, among others who have previously played for Team USA on the way to gold medals.
So yeah, let’s blame all this on Devin Booker.
Next summer, Team USA heads to Tokyo for the Olympics and you can expect many of those players to be on hand to make sure the US gets back on top.
Still in this FIBA competition are new Phoenix Suns players Ricky Rubio (Spain) and Aron Baynes (Australia).
UPDATE since first post: Spain and Australia face each other in the Semi-Finals on Friday, September 13! Story updated to reflect Australia’s win on Wednesday.
Spain has already qualified for the semi-Finals after beating Poland yesterday, while Australia punched their ticket with a win over the Czech Republic today.
Rubio set an all-time FIBA record for assists this week, while Team USA’s starting point guard had none in their loss to France.
Rubio is averaging 15 points per game on 45% shooting (47% on threes) along with 5.5 assists.
Aron Baynes is playing quite well for Australia as well, averaging 14.8 points on 60% shooting (53% on threes) along with 6.0 rebounds.
With Serbia and the US now out of medal contention, the gold medal is there for the taking for our new Suns brethren.
On this day of September 11, please take a moment to remember those 3,000 Americans who lost their lives in the terrorists attacks in New York, Washington and over Pennsylvania on this day in 2001.
So many innocent lives were lost as a direct result of the attacks and hundreds more died among the first-responders who ultimately sacrificed their own lives — then or later — in order to help save the victims of those horrific attacks.
Hug your friends, loved ones and even a stranger today (but not in a creepy way that gets you sent to HR).