(R) Kemba Walker carries the ball in an exhibition game against Australia on Aug. 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
A 13-year winning streak, the longest in program history, is over for the top-ranked U.S. men’s basketball team.
Australia snapped a 78-game winning streak for Team USA, handing the men their first defeat since 2006, in a 98-94 victory on Saturday in front of 52,079 spectators at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. It was the second of two exhibition games between the teams leading up to next week’s World Cup, and came two days after the U.S. beat Australia, 102-86.
Saturday was Australia’s first time beating the U.S. in 55 years.
The current lineup for the men’s basketball team is lacking some of the NBA star power that’s been the trademark of teams in the past. The starting lineup consisted of Marcus Smart, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton, Harrison Barnes and Myles Turner.
However, Australia went on a run to cut the lead to two points and then tied the game, 76-76, with a minute to go and took the lead on a pair of free throws before the fourth quarter.
Kemba Walker made a pair of free throws to give the U.S. back the lead with 5:23 remaining, but Joe Ingles' 3-pointer put Australia up, 88-87, with 3:36 left in the game. It also sparked a 10-2 run from which the U.S. couldn’t recover in the time left. Walker finished with 22 points for the U.S. and Barnes 20. Patty Mills, who plays for U.S. coach Gregg Popovich on the San Antonio Spurs, scored Australia’s final 10 points. Walker led the U.S. with 22 points.
The U.S. men’s team's last loss was at the semifinals of the 2006 world championships when it fell to Greece. The winning streak included Olympic gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
The U.S. next takes on Canada in Sydney in its final tune-up before the FIBA World Cup, where Team USA is looking to win its third consecutive title. The U.S. opens World Cup play on Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic in Shanghai.