After losing only its third exhibition game in the last 29 years, Team USA is looking to rebound against the Australian national team. This year’s senior national team lost by three points to Nigeria Saturday, July 10, causing a shock around the basketball world.
“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Popovich said. “That loss means nothing if we don’t learn from it but it can be the most important thing of this tournament for us to learn lessons from this and see what we did.”
On the other hand, guard Patty Mills hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give Australia the win over Argentina on the same night.
Mills is coached in the NBA by Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs.
Defending the three is something that plagued Team USA against Nigeria, as the team allowed 20 makes from deep.
Popovich said after the game “Three-point shooting was the difference.”
After the game, Pop was very vocal in crediting the Mike Brown-led Nigerian team citing the increased talent-level.
As expected, the road only gets tougher for the US with an Australian team that is highlighted by nine NBA players following the dropout of all-star Ben Simmons.
With only four more exhibition games scheduled for Team USA, the clock is ticking on the team’s opportunity to gel as a cohesive unit.
Multiple members of Team USA lamented the moments where the team relied on isolation basketball rather than ball-moving, team play.
“We all know how to play basketball,” forward Jayson Tatum said. “Throughout the game, there were certain points where it felt like we were taking turns instead of just moving, passing to one guy and letting him do his thing.”