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Next Up For Team USA: France For Gold

Can the US make it four straight?

Olympics: Basketball-Men Quarterfinal - ESP-USA
Aug 3, 2021; Saitama, Japan; USA player Jayson Tatum (10) blocks a shot against Spain during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. 
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The US Olympic Basketball team has taken a lot of criticism but after a poor exhibition team and a confusing loss to France, Team USA is back in the gold medal game and with a chance to avenge an 83-76 loss to the French.

As you may remember, the US was essentially lost and confused at the end of that game.

Since then though the US has ripped through the rest of the games on an impressive roll:

  • US 120 Iran 66
  • US 119 Czech Republic 84
  • US 95 Spain 81
  • US 97 Australia 88

The Iranian game was essentially a scrimmage that allowed Team USA to work out some issues. The Czechs were better but not a high-level team. Spain and Australia are among the best teams around though and the US beat them by 16 and 19 points and the games were both in control towards the end.

Moreover, the US has gotten better in every game.

The French are the only undefeated team in the field. Here’s their record:

  • France 83 US 76
  • France 79 Iran 62
  • France 97 Czech Republic 77
  • France 84 Italy 75
  • France 90 Slovenia 89

The biggest pain with the French is Rudy Gobert, who plays center for the Utah Jazz and is arguably the best defensive center in the NBA.

But they also have Evan Fournier, Boston Celtics, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Brooklyn Nets, Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks, and Nicolas Batum, LA Clippers.

They also have a cohesion that the Americans have only begun to approach in the last few games and in a very compressed environment given Covid and the altered NBA season.

But the thing is, this isn’t the same team that France saw in the opening game.

That team was hesitant and uncertain of roles.

The US still has a bad habit of starting slow but so far has been able to make up for it.

There is one other factor to keep in mind: the opening loss to the team they will play for the gold medal.

If Mike Krzyzewski were coaching this team, at least publicly he’d say we’re not going to focus on a loss because that means focusing on failure.

But he’d certainly find a way to use it the lessons to motivate his team.

These guys are all professionals though, they came to Tokyo for a reason and France, we’re quite sure, left a really bad taste in their mouths.

So we’d be really surprised if they weren’t passionate and motivated for this one. France might win again, but we expect a great effort from the US.