Team USA arguably had its biggest scare since the 2004 Olympics against Serbia in their last game. The Americans squeaked out a 94-91 victory that came down to a missed final shot from the Eastern Europeans.
This nailbiter came after the Australians gave them a test before Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving caught fire in the fourth quarter to help seal the 98-88 win.
Questions about this year’s U.S. squad are starting to bubble up. It was widely assumed that the path to gold would be an easy one for the programme. This has not been the case at all.
Make no mistake, Team USA isn’t as potent as it could be. They are missing Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and LeBron James. But, the team is clearly under-performing even with those omissions.
Starting center DeMarcus Cousins is pointing toward the team’s lack of mental focus.
Cousins told The Vertical: “Every time we step on the floor, guys are going to give us their best effort. We know that coming in, but at the same time, we can’t crumble the way we’ve done the past two games.”
The two-time All-Star is a key component of the team’s interior defence. He also plays the role of enforcer in the middle along with DeAndre Jordan.
These two players have contrasting skill sets and have been taken advantage of by opposing bigs in this tournament.
Boogie has struggled with foul trouble against the burly front lines of Australia and Serbia. Jordan struggles shooting free throws and has been target because of it.
The American roster has the talent to be the dominant force we saw before the team travelled to Rio. They just have to have the discipline necessary to leverage that advantage into some considerable victories.
The U.S. team's social media posts have been fun but it’s time to get serious in their pursuit of a gold medal.