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US Drops First Olympic Game in Basketball Since 2004

France upsets Americans trying to win fourth straight men's gold medal
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2021 10:30 AM CDT
US Drops First Olympic Game in Basketball Since 2004
Bam Adebayo of the US passes ahead of France's Evan Fournier on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(Newser) – The once-unbeatable US men's basketball team lost its opener Sunday in the Tokyo Olympics, falling decisively to France. Team USA had won 25 straight games, starting in 2004, and three straight gold medals. A fourth is still possible, ESPN reports, but there weren't many encouraging signs Sunday in the 83-76 loss. France's Evan Fournier, who led scorers with 28 points, was not intimidated by the Americans' past success. "They are better individually, but they can be beaten as a team," he said, per the Washington Post. The US led by six points with 4 minutes to play, but Fournier hit a three-point shot in the last minute to put France ahead. US star Kevin Durant spent much of the game on the bench after collecting four fouls in the first half. He shot 4-for-12 for 10 points, scoring one point in the fourth quarter.

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The US offense struggled throughout, per USA Today. In one possession, the Americans missed every one of their five shots. The failures began with the coaching, Brian Windhorst writes for ESPN. This is the first time Gregg Popovich has been in charge, after taking over for Mike Krzyzewski. Popovich couldn't find a way to keep Fournier from getting open shots and was stumped by France's use of two 7-foot players in the second half. Popovich dismissed the idea of an upset. "When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You're disappointed," he said after the game. Calling the loss a surprise "sort of disses the French team, as if we're supposed to beat them by 30," Popovich said. "That's a hell of a team." The US plays Group A games Wednesday, against Iran, and Saturday, against the Czech Republic. Two teams from each group will go to the quarterfinals. (Read more Tokyo Olympics stories.)

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