The unusual hiccups that Team USA experienced during exhibition play made the flight to Tokyo, and returned at the least opportune time.
On Sunday, the U.S. men's basketball team lost its preliminary round opener to France, 83-76, snapping a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004. Team USA led by seven points with 3:41 remaining in regulation, but in those final four minutes, they were outscored by France, 16-2, and shot a ghastly 0-for-9 from the field.
"They've got to pick it up. They know what the expectations are," JR said during Monday's edition of the JR SportBrief show. "Basketball is a global game... This isn't going to change. The NBA's going to have more international players. Games are closer. The Team USA squad that just lost to France, they're All-Stars. They're great individual talents. But have they had enough time to compete as a team? Have they been able to put in the same work with a rotating cast over the past several years, unlike a Spain, an Australia?...
"I believe Team USA Basketball is still going to go to the medal rounds. I still believe they're going to compete in the championship. I still believe they're going to walk away with gold. But I wouldn't be surprised if they walked away with silver... Yeah, there's slight reason to be concerned with Team USA, but they better hope their talent can actually gel together to win..."
Team USA should get a breather in their second group stage game, as they're scheduled to face Iran on Wednesday at 12:40 a.m. ET.
JR's complete thoughts on Team USA Basketball can be accessed in the audio player above.