The Americans’ 78-game winning streak – the longest in program history – ended with a 98-94 loss to Australia in an exhibition game in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup next week. But Team USA veteran Kemba Walker admitted the historic defeat may have been a good wake-up call for the U.S.
“They say Team USA doesn’t lose. I get it,” Walker said (via usabasketball.com). “They haven’t lost in a very long time, which I understand, but it happens. Teams lose.
“I think times like this are what’s going to help us come together even more. Honestly, you hate to lose, but probably it was good for us. It humbled us very much … got to continue to grow.”
Coming off a 102-86 win against the Aussies just two days earlier, the Americans hadn’t lost in a major international tournament or exhibition since the 2006 World Championship semifinals against Greece, ESPN notes. The U.S. had been 30-0 all-time in Australia.
Walker explained that Team USA will learn from the loss and then focus on its next challenge of playing in the World Cup, which stars with a game against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1 in Shanghai for the U.S. after facing Canada in one more exhibition game.
“We’re going to take this loss and build from it. That’s all we can do,” Walker said. “That’s all we can do is continue to try our best to get better. The real thing doesn’t start until China. … That’s all we’re worried about. Just continue to get better, to continue to learn each other. (Australia has) been playing with each other for a very long time. Us? We’re just kind of beginning.”
The Americans led at halftime 49-48 and looked to be in control when they went up 10 in the second half. But Australia rallied behind Patty Mills, who scored 30 points, including his team’s final 10.
Walker, however, reiterated he’s not concerned about whether Team USA can bounce back because he’s confident the U.S. will make the adjustments needed.
“We’ve learned many lessons tonight,” Walker said. “There are so many things that we can do to continue to get better. We will. We’ll fix it. We have great guys, high-character guys who work extremely hard, and so we want to do well, and we will.”