By Miguel Angel Moreno
Saitama, Japan, Jul 25 (EFE).- The French men’s basketball team on Sunday dealt the US squad its first Olympic defeat in 17 years, a stunning 83-76 Group A upset led by a spectacular Evan Fournier, who scored 28 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. It was the first loss for Team USA since they were downed by Argentina in the Athens 2004 semifinals.
The US squad was not quite up to snuff, having been cobbled together more or less at the last minute with assorted changes and three National Basketball Association players arriving in Tokyo less than 24 hours before the duel. One of those late arrivals, guard Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks, the recent NBA title winners, was the US top scorer with 18 points.
Aiding Fournier in achieving the victory for the French team – coached by Vincent Collet – was Nando de Colo, with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Rudy Gobert with 14 points and 9 assists.
Gregg Popovich’s team couldn’t get a good offense going for most of the game and that situation got decisively worse when Kevin Durant picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter with the US ahead 49-45. After Durant left the court with his fifth foul, however, France took over and immediately went on a run to the tables just minutes later, after which they never looked back.
No fans were in the stands for the match at the Saitama Super Arena due to coronavirus gathering restrictions.
Despite the loss, Team USA is the heavy favorite to dominate both Iran and the Czech Republic in the next two group play games and is expected to easily move into the knockout round, where Popovich’s men could take another run at downing France.