Team USA’s 24-game Olympic win streak has been crushed as they were defeated 83-76 by France at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.
Unbeaten since a semi-final defeat to Argentina at the 2004 Games in Athens, a run that has seen them win three straight titles, defeat in their opening Group A game mounts more scrutiny on the 15-time gold medallists.
Greg Popovich’s side had already picked up multiple unwanted records in the run-up to the Games, losing back-to-back matches for the first time since 1992 to Nigeria and Australia, the former being their first ever defeat to an African side.
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Loaded with NBA stars, the United States must now rally for remaining group games against Iran and the Czech Republic.
Overall scoring was led by France’s Evan Fournier with 28, the 28-year-old plying his trade with the Boston Celtics.
Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks, newly crowned NBA champions, led the scoring for the US with 18, while Kevin Durant shot for 10.
The US had gone into half-time with a 45-37 lead, but a disastrous third quarter saw them outscored 25-11 and trail 62-56 with a quarter to play.
They held a slim lead heading into the closing minutes, but 11 straight France points amid a string of turnovers and poor finishing saw the US slip to a shock defeat.
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