Team USA No Longer So Dominant In World Basketball Competition – Has Everyone Caught Up Or Is The US Just Not As Strong?

Reviewing the first games of the USA Basketball Team An off-season event in a faraway venue doesn’t capture a ton of interest. Not with the NFL season about to...

(Photo Source: nba.com)

Reviewing the first games of the USA Basketball Team

An off-season event in a faraway venue doesn’t capture a ton of interest. Not with the NFL season about to start, college football underway and baseball in its stretch run.

Even so, the FIBA World Cup, a competition long ruled by the U.S. provides some insights into the state of the game internationally. Talent is widespread and the U.S. won’t walk all over the teams it plays anymore.

In the runup to this event, Team USA lost to Australia in a friendly and saw a 76-game win streak end. Team USA opened the FIBA tournament with a 93-92 overtime win over Turkey in Shanghai, China. The U.S. is ranked No. 1, Turkey No. 17. And if Turkey hadn’t missed four consecutive free throws with nine seconds left, it would have won.

As it turned out, Khris Middleton made a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to clinch the U.S.’ 44th consecutive victory in World Cup and Olympic play.

Jayson Tatum’s sprained left ankle will be evaluated Wednesday. His availability for
the second round of play this weekend in Shenzhen will be determined after that exam.

Team USA lacks some of the glamor names of the past and that levels the court some.

Play around the world keeps improving, in part because of the NBA’s outreach and the search internationally by colleges for top prospects.

More better basketball? No problem for me.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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