For more than a decade, the United States maintained its dominance in international men’s basketball. All of that changed Saturday, when Team USA lost its first game since 2006 to Australia.
The Boomers, ranked 11th by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), won its first game against No. 1 ranked USA, beating the team 98-94. The game was played at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne with a crowd of more than 52,000, the largest crowd ever to watch basketball in Australia.
The US had won 78 games straight in major international tournaments and exhibitions before Saturday’s World Cup exhibition matchup.
“The Aussies gave us a great lesson as far as where we have to be and how we have to play in this kind of competition,” US head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “So, we’ll get used to that and hopefully learn.”
The loss comes two days after the US beat Australia 102-86 on Thursday. The last time Team USA lost was during the 2006 semifinals of the FIBA World Championship.
“Nobody wins forever,” Popovich said.
The US’ final exhibition is Monday against Canada in Sydney before heading to the World Cup in China. There the two-time defending World Cup champion will face the Czech Republic on September 1.