Team USA went through its most embarrassing stretch in over a decade, as it will finish seventh at best in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
After dropping games to France and Serbia — breaking a streak of 58 straight wins in non-exhibition games — Team USA will not medal for the first time since the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo pointed to player turnout as a reason for the disappointment and is making a note of it ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I can only say, you can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up,” Colangelo said, via ESPN.
“I’m a firm believer that you deal with the cards you’re dealt. All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand, you feel reasonably confident that you’re going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court.”
The FIBA World Cup is far from the radar of most basketball fans, but it kept creeping into the news because week after week, another NBA star would remove his name from consideration to play for Team USA. First, it was Anthony Davis pulling out on July 15. Days later it was James Harden and Bradley Beal. And before long, players like Eric Gordon, Paul Millsap and Montrezl Harrell opted not to compete.
After starting with a roster full of 35 stars, the only players to remain on the 12-man roster were Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Harrison Barnes and Myles Turner. Eventually Team USA had to fill out its rotation with role players who come off the bench in the NBA like Mason Plumlee and Derrick White.