US Men's basketball suffers Olympics loss to France; US women's soccer dominates in bounce-back win; and an MLB Catch of the Season?

The Sunday afternoon edition of "Seven things to know before 7 PM" is live

Again - my apologies for no Saturday Snippets post, but I felt I was not going to produce enough content for a blog entry yesterday, as the two topics were the women’s soccer win that morning and that the Texas Rangers (MLB) have lost 10 straight games. But we have more to talk about on this Sunday afternoon, including the first Olympics’ loss for Team USA men’s basketball since 2004; a world’s #1 tennis player bounced in the first round; and two top PGA golfers gone from the Olympics before the rounds even began. This, and a whole lot more on today’s Snippets.

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1) Team USA men’s basketball comes up short in 1st Olympics defeat in 17 years in loss to France

People who have not been paying attention to Team USA basketball may find this final score shocking (losing to France this morning, 83-76), but for those who have been following the team during their exhibition matches *knew* that a big loss in the Olympics was forthcoming against a team that has more size and continuity and has a good cast of NBA players.

But this evening’s game (8 PM Japan time) was not all doom and gloom; in fact, the United States held their own for the first half, taking a 45-37 halftime lead, behind center Bam Adebayo’s 10 points and Damian Lillard’s 9. But the French, led by former Orlando Magic wing Evan Fournier (led both teams with 28 points), led a huge third quarter comeback, finishing the quarter on a 22-7 run to take a 62-56 lead. The teams exchanged fourth quarter leads, as American Jrue Holiday (yes, the same Milwaukee Bucks’ champion and guard that shut-down current USA teammate Devin Booker in the NBA Finals game 6 just days ago) led the charge in the fourth with 12 of his 18 points coming in this quarter. He, along with the team, had to play without heralded star Kevin Durant for most of the third quarter and portions of the fourth because he picked up three fouls by halftime and a fourth foul entering the final frame.

Unfortunately, the tide turned to the French, as Team USA went ice-cold for the final four minutes of regulation. Despite the Americans littered with lethal shooters across the roster (Durant, Booker, Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton and Zach LaVine), the team was 0-9 from the field and only scored two points the rest of the way.

The length of reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Frenchman Rudy Gobert, as well as wide-open looks from three that just did not fall doomed the Americans in the end. What was the team’s greatest asset was also the team’s greatest liability. This sequence just says it all:

Wide-open looks from LaVine, Durant and then Holiday from three… with the team down by two and a French player injured on the play under a minute left, and Team USA still could not convert. But like I said before - a opening match group stage loss is not the end of the world, as the team does have more favorable games coming up against Iran on Wednesday (12:40 AM EST tip-off!) and Czech Republic on Saturday (8 AM) that should result in two bounce-back wins. But this is the first loss for Team USA in the Olympics since the 2004 bronze medal loss to former University of Maryland graduate Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-1998 at UMD) and his Lithuania team - 24 straight games and four gold medals won in that span.

This loss to France also shows that the rest of the world has caught up to Team USA in terms of talent and all-around play, and that Team USA needs to have the right set of circumstances (health from their star players so that they can play; more of a break between the end of the season and Team USA practices…etc.) if they were to blow-out every country from around the world. I highly doubt we will see another ‘Dream Team’ or ‘Redeem Team’ anytime soon, as Team USA has gotten weaker over the years, the world has gotten stronger in men’s basketball. Which makes for more fascinating Olympics basketball!

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2) US Women’s soccer get the blowout win they needed in a 6-1 thrashing against New Zealand on Saturday

I am covering this story since I did not have a Saturday Snippets yesterday, since there seemed to be too few points to cover then. In the second US women’s soccer/futbol group stage game, the team bounced-back in a huge way in a dominating 6-1 win over New Zealand yesterday morning. But this win could have been even bigger, as the team actually got four more first half goals - all in succession - but were all ruled offsides. American Rose Lavelle started things off with a 10th minute goal, and it went all downhill from there. There were two second half own goals that started and ended the second half, and in-between, Team USA received goals from second half substitutes in Christian Press and Alex Morgan.

The US women’s soccer team is now 1-1, with the third and final game coming up against Samantha Kerr and Australia this Tuesday at 4 AM EST. Both teams have three points in Group G, but US is ahead with their 6-1 win as the tiebreaker. They need to at least draw against the Team Down Under to qualify for the knockout stage; but a win would get them a better seed and a slightly worse opponent for the tournament.

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3) Team USA Softball wins against Australia… on a walk-off! Move to 4-0 and advance to Gold Medal Game!

Like I mentioned in an earlier Snippets edition, Softball is back in the Olympics for the first time in 13 years. And boy did we have some excitement in the semifinals between Team USA and Australia. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth (extra innings, as typical softball games go only six innings), with two ladies on second and third base and one out in the last half-inning of the game… and we had drama and a wild finish.

31-year old American Amanda Chidester hit a ball into left field, just past the outstretched arms of the Aussie shortstop, resulting in not only teammate Ally Carda scoring from third, but also a speedy Halyie McCleney dashing her way safely home before the ball reached the Aussie catcher. USA wins 2-1 on a walk-off double by Chidester!

Now, the team will face Japan for Olympic gold tonight at 9 PM EST. Best of luck for the American women tonight!

4) World’s #1 in women’s tennis is knocked-out in the first round of the Olympics

Tell me if you have heard this story before - the women’s world #1 in tennis loses in an early-round tournament match. Speaking of Australia, the Aussie Ashleigh Barty lost in straight sets to Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, 4-6, 3-6 in the first round of the Olympics. Barty was coming off a high after winning the historic Wimbledon tournament a month ago, but just could not find the same success on this Tokyo hard court yesterday.

5) Top PGA golfers ruled out of Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for Covid

Now, this is frustrating for golf fans across the world. Two of the world’s best will no longer play in the Tokyo Olympics, as both American Bryson DeChambeau and Spaniard Jon Rahm have both tested positive for Covid. I know people were excited to see DeChambeau’s long driver bombs and Rahm’s consistent elite play on the world’s greatest stage in the Olympics, but that will not be the case this year.

6) Umpire in hot water in Miami

San Diego Padres players, managers, fans and even the announcers were all equally pissed after yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins in Florida. More specifically, pissed at home plate umpire Doug Eddings, who blatantly made poor ball/strike calls that unfavorably hurt the Padres all night.

None were more egregious than this five pitch at-bat to Padres’ outfielder Wil Myers in the top of the sixth inning; after a batters’ count of 2-0 (two straight balls), Marlins’ starting pitcher Braxton Garrett then threw three more balls, which should have draw a walk on that fourth pitch. Unfortunately for the Padres, Eddings did not see it that way and rung-up Myers. The Padres broadcasters were fuming (as were the players and managers of the Padres) from that point on until the game ended. And the Padres’ broadcast had some humor in the moment, giving the ‘Plays of the Game’ award to Eddings himself on a poorly called night from behind the plate. A frustrating Saturday night for the Padres, only punctuated worse by Eddings.

7) George Springer… with the catch of the season?

Did we just witness the catch of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays against the New York Mets at Citi Field last night? With the Blue Jays nursing a 3-0, third inning lead, Mets’ outfielder Brandon Nimmo was at the dish against Jays’ starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu. Nimmo lifted a shot to deep left-center field, as Jays’ centerfielder George Springer was tracking it down. Springer laid out horizontally, landing on the warning track, to rob Nimmo of any extra-base hits. Fantastic catch, and a possible Catch of the Season, in my opinion.

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We are done with another edition of my Snippets on this July Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the Olympic events taking place this evening, like US Softball going for gold tonight. So, until next time, signing off.