Team USA vs. Australia Basketball Exhibition Canceled Amid COVID-19 Issues

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 15, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15: Gregg Popovich head coach of the USAB National team coaches during practice at Mendenhall Center on July 15, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Team USA men's basketball squad will not have the opportunity to bounce back from its exhibition loss to Australia after the sides agreed to cancel Friday's rematch due to health and safety protocols.   

USA Basketball @usabasketball

Out of an abundance of caution, the USA Men's National Team exhibition versus Australia on Friday has been cancelled.<br><br>The USA Women's National Team's matchup with Australia will be played at 2:30 PM ET on NBCSN.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Olgun Uluc initially reported the team is "in a struggle with COVID" and was discussing potentially canceling the exhibition with Australia. Bradley Beal is out of the Olympics because of the virus, while Jerami Grant is in health and safety protocols.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported USA Basketball is looking to potentially replace Beal on the roster.

As for Grant, Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported he had not tested positive despite being in protocols.

It has been a rocky lead to the Olympics for the Americans, as they lost stunners to Nigeria and Australia during the exhibition slate and are now dealing with COVID-19 concerns. They are still the favorites as the three-time defending Olympic champions, but it may not be as straightforward as once thought.

Team USA is also slated to play Spain in an exhibition Sunday before leaving for Tokyo for a schedule that starts July 25 against France.

Beal is a notable loss for the Americans considering he is coming off such an impressive season that saw him make his third career All-Star Game and average 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 34.9 percent from three-point range.

Only Stephen Curry (32.0) averaged more points per game than Beal.

Team USA may need to find a way to replicate that scoring if it is going to live up to gold medal expectations.