Team USA lost the quarterfinals match against France, thus breaking the 58 sin streak it had through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics match. The loss doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
We followed all the cancelations this summer that led to Mitchell and Walker being the best players on Team USA. While this wasn’t the best USA has to offer, the team was still considered to be the favorite. But, the struggles they showed playing in the World Cup revealed that more than a lack of talent, this team lacked identity.
All other teams in the tournament may not have the same talent, but they all have an identity and are playing together almost every summer since they were teenagers. With a depleted Team USA, that was enough.
The lack of identity was partly the result of all the cancelations. When Myles Turner got into foul trouble, it was Harrison Barnes playing defense on Rudy Gobert. This reminded us why Draymond Green is unique – no other player of his size can do what he does on defense. The upset is most obviously described through the point guard matchup.
Not much was expected from Ntilikina, while Kemba was supposed to lead his team. In the end, Ntilikina drained a few crucial threes and played amazing defense while Kemba was nowhere to be found. Jalen Rose summed it up on “Get Up“:
Frank Ntilikina of the Knicks was picking up Kemba Walker 94 feet. Stripped him a couple of times. They did a really good job of disrupting the offense of Team USA. Kemba had a poor game. I told you he needed to have a great game if they was gonna win. They got bounced today.
Here come the Knicks fans…