Australia ends Team USA 78 game consecutive win streak in FIBA exhibition action

Team USA: USA Head Coach Gregg Popovich speaks to the media (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Team USA: USA Head Coach Gregg Popovich speaks to the media (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images) /

As Team USA prepares for the FIBA World Cup they lost to Australia in exhibition ending a 78 game unbeaten streak and the squad’s first loss since 2006.

International teams are getting in their final exhibition games in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Team USA coached by Gregg Popovich has dealt with an unusual summer with many key players not participating and Saturday his team suffered a loss which ended a 78 game unbeaten streak.

The tournament launches on August 31st and runs until September 15th.  China is hosting the event which carries added importance given the top squads will secure berths at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Toyko, Japan next year.

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Saturday play resulted in two pretty big upsets as the United States lost an exhibition game to the Australian Team. In a close game, the Australian team bested the Americans 98-94.

Gregg Popovich is dealing with numerous top level NBA stars not participating this season. The most recent player to withdraw his services was LA Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma who suffered a minor ankle injury.

Popovich will likely take a little ribbing when his San Antonio Spurs congregate for preseason as his own player, point guard Patty Mills led the Australian team in victory.

Mills posted 30 points in the victory. The win for the Aussies also ended a 30 game unbeaten streak against the Americans.  Newly signed Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker led his squad with 22 points in the loss.

Not since 2006 have the Americans lost in FIBA World Cup action. The Greek Team held the honor of being the last international squad to defeat the Americans 101-95.

Bragging rights aside, this isn’t a dire situation for Team U.S.A.  Just like preseason games, these exhibition matches allow for tweaking and insight prior to playing the games which count.

However, there is more concern this year given the Team USA roster does not feature the typical participants. Moreover, most of this iteration of the team haven’t participated in previous World Cup events or on Olympic Gold Medal teams. Kyle Lowry had planned to be one of the returning players and leaders but the surgery the Raptors point guard underwent to his thumb didn’t heal quickly enough.

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Still, the U.S. team is considered the definitive front runner to win the World Cup with the event set to tip off on August 31 and running through to September15.  Several OKC Thunder players are participating in the World Cup including Danilo Gallinari for the Italian Team and Dennis Schroder for the German Team.