NBA champion Jrue Holiday looks ahead after U.S. men's basketball loss to France

Holiday flew into Japan just 24 hours prior to the game, which was the first time Team USA lost in Olympic play since 2004.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Team USA had its toughest day at the Olympic office in men's basketball in 17 years.

But in a 83-76 loss to France on Sunday (25th July) - a defeat that stopped 25 wins in a row - it was NBA champion of the Milwaukee Bucks Jrue Holiday who was the shining star for the team, having just arrive to Tokyo 2020 some 24 hours earlier.

"This is the first time I've been on this stage; you always want to make an impression. I just came out and played as hard as I can. We had a chance... France is a good team. They play very, very well together. They were consistent throughout the whole game."

How can Team USA get back on track again?

"This is my first day," quipped Holiday. "Literally my first day."

"We have to keep going; we have to break that barrier. I'm very positive about tonight. France is a good team. I feel we're getting better every game."

There were warning signs for Team USA ahead of their landing in Tokyo, having lost two exhibition games ahead of the Olympics and going through several roster shake-ups.

Popovich: We need 'to be more consistent'

Those cracks in the team's armour showed on Sunday, as they let an eight-point halftime lead flip into a six-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

But 12 of Holiday's 18 points came during a fourth quarter hot streak that put the U.S. back into the lead. The team faltered from there.

"We've been through a lot... this is the first time our full team has played together," he added. "We will accomplish this, too. ... We're smart players, we'll figure this out."

"The French team played very consistent basketball on both ends of the court and did a great job," said U.S. coach Gregg Popovich. "That's our goal moving forward: To be more consistent."

For France, Evan Fournier had 28 points to lead his squad, while Rudy Gobert added 14.

Kevin Durant: 'Missing' in action

A big missing piece for Team USA was two-time Olympic gold medallist and veteran team leader Kevin Durant, who got in foul trouble and missed much of the third quarter. He played just 20 minutes total, scoring 10 points.

In that third quarter, France outscored the U.S. 25-11.

Durant had an active few days leading up to the first group game, including when Team USA broke out into song for his birthday before they walked out in the Opening Ceremony.

The only problem? Durant's birthday is 29 September.

Durant will need to turn to his leadership to help a young U.S. squad bounce back. The team next faces Iran in group play on Wednesday (28 July).

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