The U.S. men’s national basketball team fell to France in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, snapping its 58-game winning streak in international play.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart had 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting, but was very critical of Team USA’s miscues in the 89-79 loss.
“No, it was all on us,” Smart said following the game. “We made a lot of crucial mistakes, and we played around in the first half, and it came back to bite us.”
Yes, the mistakes were aplenty, but Team USA’s issues at the free-throw line rise above the rest. They were 14-of-21 from the charity stripe, which ultimately became the deciding factor in Wednesday’s loss. Smart emphasized the free ones, specifically.
“It was excruciating, especially for a team that shoots really well from the line, you know,” he said. “But, it happens. Like I said, you can’t win them all, and it’s part of the game of basketball.”
Team USA will not medal at the World Cup for the first time since 2002, which obviously won’t sit well with this group.
“It’s tough. It’s tough for everybody,” Smart said. “We sacrificed a lot just like everybody else who is here. Just to lose in general — as a competitor, you hate to lose, but you can’t win them all. We have another game tomorrow. We have to come back and bring it.”
Despite the disappointing result, the 25-year-old says he’s proud of his teammates after learning a lot together. For Smart, like many others on the roster, this was his first experience representing the country at the World Cup or Olympic level.
“We learned a lot,” he noted. “For a lot of us it was our first time, so we came out and gave it everything. I’m proud of every last one of my teammates. We got another game tomorrow, so it’s not over with. We have to come out and compete.”
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images