FIBA World Cup 2019: 3 Reasons why Team USA could endure an embarrassing campaign
As has become apparent from multiple withdrawals by respected NBA names leading up to the FIBA World Cup, Team USA will not be fielding their best roster on the floor when the tournament tips off in China on Aug. 31. Prominent NBA names such as James Harden, Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Tobias Harris, Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum, DeMar DeRozan, and Eric Gordon have each withdrawn from the training camp roster.
In the backdrop of Team USA's illustrious history in international events, Coach Popovich might be ironically heading a group of newbies through the biggest global basketball event aside from the Olympics. Moreover, their recent loss to Australia in an exhibition game highlighted the squad's weaknesses down the stretch.
The team led by Kemba Walker and including explosive talents in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Donovan Mitchell and recent All-Star Khris Middleton faces a mighty task ahead of them. Therefore, let's analyze the fairly palpable possibility of an embarrassing letdown.
#1 The glaring dearth of international playing experience on the roster
When Carmelo Anthony - USA's leading scorer - reached out to the Team USA camp, they decided not to onboard him, giving clear signs of the front office's inclination towards the youth in hopes of a promising future for the country. Most of the leading talents on the team are in their early twenties with little to no prior experience playing in the international domain.
USA coasted past Spain in their first exhibition game and then flew all the way to Australia for a couple of tune-up games against the Boomers. They beat the hosts 102-86 in their first game at Marvel Stadium before falling 98-94 in the second clash with the same team, in what was a shocking loss for the basketball world.
“You got to react to a loss,” said USA head coach Gregg Popovich. “You react to a win. You can’t take a win for granted. But, I think that it was a great learning situation for us, just about playing FIBA basketball – the physicality, the rules, how it’s played, how it’s refereed. All those sorts of things. So, it was a great learning experience to have those two games against a very good team.”
Even though they bounced back to obliterate an understaffed Canadian side in their fourth and final tune-up game, it seemed like the team was in dire need of more overseas playing experience than what could be accommodated in a brief schedule before 31st.