Team USA Basketball kicks off their quest for Gold this Sunday with an opening game versus France.
In their last major tournament international head-to-head, France upset the heavily-favored Americans 89-79 in the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals.
Such loss still leaves an ugly taste in Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich’s mouth after two years and he said they have been preparing for redemption against the French for two years and he thinks about the loss every day.
However, Olympics history shows the U.S posting a 6-0 record against the French all-time, but this USA squad knows the French aren’t a team they can take for granted. The French squad rosters NBA players Rudy Gobert, Nic Batum, Evan Fournier, Frank Ntilkina, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who are familiar with the playing styles of Team USA’s players.
Coming into this Olympics the U.S started shakily with two exhibition losses in a row to Australia and Nigeria, which drew heavy criticism in the sports world. Such questions were thrown around like “Is Pop the right coach to lead this squad?” or “Is this year’s USA squad even good enough to make a deep run?”
The team would respond with two victories over Argentina and Spain but was faced with more adversity as they dealt with COVID-19 issues with some of their players and had an injury opt-out from Kevin Love.
Due to COVID, Bradley Beal would be ruled out for Tokyo and replaced with Keldon Johnson and to fill in for Love, Javale McGee was chosen.
Although the team faced such bumps in the road on the way to Tokyo there would be some light shed through the darkness, as Khris Middleton, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday who were fresh off an NBA Finals were on the way to help bring the USA a gold medal.
Popovich was asked about how he felt his three players would feel physically coming into Olympic play and he said, “I have no idea and I’m being totally transparent. We have talked about whether they are going to have jet lag and if it will hit them two days later, or if they will be fine and we should play them a certain amount in the first half.”
He would go on to say it all just depends on the health of the team and if they need to play, they will.
This Sunday, fans will see the USA squad faced off with an early test to start off the Olympics, but Pop will motivate his players by having them remember their previous loss two years ago.
This will be the first time the team will have a full, healthy roster, and the depth of Holiday, Booker, and Middleton should pay dividends.
What: Tokyo 2020 Olympics- Men’s Preliminary Round Basketball
When: Sunday, July 25 | Time: 8 a.m. ET.
TV Channel: Peacock
Live Stream: fuboTV
Odds: Team USA +12.5 favorite via William Sportsbook