U.S. ends worst-ever World Cup outing on a positive note

Superstar Kobe Bryant admires the competitive nature of modern basketball

Superstar Kobe Bryant admires the competitive nature of modern basketball

Kobe Bryant thinks Team USA might have to get used to a new reality of losing in major events.

"It's not going to be a cakewalk", Bryant said at a press conference in Beijing, according to the AP. Despite winning their first five games, Team USA clearly struggled against seasoned teams and they lack the coherence and confidence of the U.S.' past lineups. Some key players, like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, are coming back from serious injuries. National Basketball Association players who participated in the tournament will have fewer than two weeks before training camp begins.

"I hear that a lot - did we send the best possible team that could come out here".

The USA won gold at every major worldwide tournament between 2008 and 2016, but this World Cup was different, with numerous USA's top players choosing not to come.

With that understanding, Bryant said American stars who chose to skip playing this summer had their reasons and he supported them.

"No matter what team it is, it's not going to be easy".

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The American's were recently eliminated by France and then lost against Serbia in the consolation round. So I say that to say put the best players that you think are going to make the best USA team out on the floor, we are still going to have challenges.

Team USA stifled Poland defensively, holding them to 25.9 percent shooting beyond the arc and 39.7 percent overall. We still needed a really late push to beat Spain. Only Lamar Odom, a double victor in 2010 with United States of America and LA Lakers, has ever managed that, according to FIBA. The U.S. did lose during its exhibition games, falling to Australia (No. 11) just ahead of the World Cup.

Argentina was a convincing 80-66 victor over France in its semifinal with the 39-year-old Luis Scola propelling the team into the showdown with Spain.

"I think other guys looked at it like, 'Why would I want to go potentially be the face of what could be a losing roster?'" McCollum said.

One hurdle USA Basketball and managing director Jerry Colangelo faced while putting together the roster was the fact that many NBA superstars withdrew their invitation to play in the tournament, marking an unprecedented move that left Colangelo and the rest of USA Basketball scrambling to fill roster spots. And that will mean more losses.

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