Team USA lost to France at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, 89-78, on Wednesday, marking the first time since 2006 that USA basketball has lost in international competition. The defeat shatters a 58-game win streak. Many were shocked about the loss, but with the particular players on the court, the defeat is not as surprising as some are making it out to be.
While NBA star-caliber players that joined the team, Raja Bell says it was far from the best lineup of guys to put out there.
“What’d you expect?” he said on Wednesday’s episode of the Kanell & Bell podcast. “I mean you rolled out your C team.
Bell added the expectation is always to win but a loss with this squad is far from shocking.
“My initial thought was if you were arrogant enough like at times USA is to just take your D-league players and think that they’re gonna beat like the best international competition there is, I would say that’s arrogance,” he said. “This was not that.”
Bell believes the loss happened in part because the top contenders in the game right now were not on the team:
“You had a bunch of guys that you wanted to go to the competition elect not to participate and so you had to take what you had.”
If the situation was different and the best players were participating, Bell thinks there is no way this would have been the result.
“I’m not surprised that they ended up getting beat by someone because while they’re good players, they’re not the best that we have to offer and if you had sent the best that we have to offer. I don’t really think there was a chance that we would’ve lost,” he said.
Danny Kanell chimed in to discuss what this all really means in the basketball world and ultimately asked: “Does anybody care?”
Bell says that it is a question of pride and that winning is something team USA still cares about.
“I think we take pride in the collective brotherhood,” he said.
Bell notes that the loss may wake people up that the country’s team can still compete with the second or third option players but they will not dominate like they would if the first choice athletes attended. He thinks this may have players taking action and saying, “Next time around the block we’re gonna have to show up.”