For the first time in 13 years, an American team composed of NBA players took the court for an international game and lost...though you could argue they were due, especially considering their current roster makeup.
The L came at the hands of some scrappy Aussies during an exhibition that took place on Saturday in Melbourne, Australia. The final score of the game was 98-94, and it could serve as either a wake up for Team USA or an omen of things soon to come, we'll know in a week when The FIBA World Cup officially begins.
More notably the loss is Team USA's first in a major international tournament or exhibition since the 2006 squad was bested in the world championship semifinals against Greece. Following that game the U.S. went on an undefeated run that included the 2007 FIBA Americas, the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and the past three Olympic Games.
ESPN reports that, on Saturday, Australia rallied back from a 10-point deficit, and that they were led by one of their own NBA players, San Antonio's Patty Mills, who scored 30 points. Though it was just an exhibition, the Australians' victory represents a milestone since they were previously 0-30 all-time against America. Their victory also came in front of a massive crowd of 52,079, which is now the new record for the largest attendance for a basketball game in the country's history.
"Some of it is expected with a new group that's trying to learn about each other and learn a system,'' said U.S. coach Gregg Popovich after the game. "So it's not surprising. But the Aussies gave us a great lesson as far as where we want to be and how you have to play in this kind of a competition.''
The U.S. still holds the No. 1 spot in the FIBA rankings, though this year's FIBA roster isn't exactly the Dream Team as most NBA stars opted to skip this year's tournament. In previous exhibitions that took place over the past eight days, the Americans beat Spain by nine, and on Thursday, put together a big second half to beat this same Australian team by 16.
The U.S.' next game will take place on Monday against Canada. It will be their final exhibition prior to the actual World Cup.