LAS VEGAS — After two consecutive exhibition losses, the U.S. girls’s Olympic basketball workforce will go into Sunday’s sport towards Nigeria (5:30 p.m. ET) with a better sense of urgency than an exhibition often would provoke.
“We need to ensure we come out and have a feel-good sport happening this lengthy flight,” USA guard Jewell Loyd stated of the upcoming journey to Tokyo.
This week is the primary time since a 2011 exhibition tour in Europe that the U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce has misplaced back-to-back video games. The People have not misplaced three consecutive video games since 1998 within the Australian Goldmark Cup, with all of these defeats coming to Australia.
Within the two main competitions, the Olympics and the FIBA Girls’s Basketball World Cup, the People have misplaced simply as soon as since successful the 1996 Atlanta Video games. That got here within the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Cup, after which they received the bronze medal sport.
“We’re not used to being able of getting to defend dropping,” U.S. coach Daybreak Staley stated. “This preparation is nice for us. It is placing us again on our heels and in place to determine some stuff out shortly. You lose two, it shakes you up. That is international to them. We do really feel slightly little bit of stress.”
That stated, Staley stated within the large image, she’s not particularly involved after the People’ 93-85 loss to Staff WNBA within the All-Star Sport on Wednesday and the 70-67 loss to Staff Australia on Friday. There have been troubling points in each video games, offensively and defensively. However contemplating this workforce has been collectively lower than per week and four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi hasn’t performed but, Staley stated she sees enhancements each time the People are on court docket collectively in video games and observe.
Specifically, the six gamers making their Olympic debuts are determining their roles. Washington guard Ariel Atkins, who turns 25 on July 30 when the People face Japan of their second sport of Group B play, was requested about being one of many prime perimeter defenders on this planet.
“I do know that is one thing I can convey to this workforce. I like taking part in protection; it is actually my favourite a part of the sport,” Atkins stated. “However I’ll discover ways to alter to the FIBA guidelines. Within the WNBA, they reward you for being an aggressive defender. Not a lot in FIBA. So simply studying the way to steadiness that and getting higher at it’s actually going to assist me play protection on a global stage.”
Seattle’s Loyd, a two-time WNBA champion at age 27, can also be getting the cling of being on her first Olympic workforce.
“Diana after observe in the present day took me apart and we obtained photographs up. And she or he instructed me to remain aggressive,” Loyd stated. “Listening to that from her — clearly we’re pals, but in addition realizing that she’s leaning on me slightly bit to step up, it is good to know. As a result of typically you come into conditions the place you are unsure, and you are like, ‘I will simply do what I am instructed.’
“However I feel form of the place we’re with this workforce is, ‘Yeah, I am a first-timer, however I am additionally fairly skilled, so simply attempt to do my job.'”
Phoenix guard Taurasi, 39, competed in her first Olympics in 2004, when Staley was taking part in in her final Summer season Video games. Taurasi has been out because the Mercury’s sport July 3 due to a hip harm, however she’s doing what she will be able to to help this group till she will get again on the court docket.
“It is irritating; you clearly need to be on the market to assist,” Taurasi stated. “If you’ve been on the workforce a very long time, there’s sure issues that you understand assist the method alongside. The truth is, it is the primary time for lots of those guys, and typically you gotta undergo the hearth.
“These two video games are slightly little bit of actuality of the way it’s not a straightforward path. It by no means is, and it by no means shall be. You undergo these bumps and bruises. Sadly, we have had two video games the place we did not get the outcome we wished. However I feel there was development there. This group remains to be actually assured. We nonetheless know it will be troublesome, and we have now to embrace that.”