Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker is viewing Team USA's shocking exhibition loss to Australia as a positive.
In an interview with USA Basketball's official website, Walker suggested that losing a game and facing some adversity could help Team USA in the long run:
"We're coming together. I think times like this are what's going to help us come together even more. Honestly, you hate to lose, but probably it was good for us. It humbled us very much ... got to continue to grow."
The Americans blew a 10-point second-half lead in a 98-94 exhibition loss to the Aussies in Melbourne on Saturday.
The defeat ended a 78-game winning streak in international play for an American men's senior national teams comprised of NBA players.
Team USA seemed vulnerable ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup since many of the top NBA stars it hoped would play for the team removed themselves from consideration.
Even so, the Americans scored exhibition wins over Spain and Australia before Saturday's loss. Although losing for the first time in nearly 13 years is alarming, Walker is refusing to panic:
"They say Team USA doesn't lose. I get it. They haven't lost in a very long time, which I understand, but it happens. Teams lose. Like I said, we're going to take this loss and build from it. That's all we can do. That's all we can do is continue to try our best to get better. The real thing doesn't start until China. We got one more game. We head to Sydney and focus on Canada. Then from that point out, the real thing starts. That's all we're worried about. Just continue to get better, to continue to learn each other."
Team USA failed to contain San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, who scored a game-high 30 points for the Boomers. That created some cause for concern since the Americans have some highly touted perimeter defenders in Celtics guard Marcus Smart and San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White, who were unable to slow Mills down.
It should also be noted that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is serving in the same role for Team USA, so Mills likely had some inside knowledge regarding what Popovich would throw at him defensively.
Team USA named its final 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup on Saturday with Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma as the final cut. Kuzma almost certainly would have made the team if not for an ankle injury that rendered him unable to play Saturday.
Walker is the clear leader for a U.S. team that is largely devoid of superstars. Kemba is a three-time All-Star, making him the only multi-time NBA All-Star on the roster.
There is little doubt that Team USA is deeper than any other squad heading to China for the FIBA World Cup, but they could struggle against teams with legitimate stars players such as Serbia (Nikola Jokic) and Greece (Giannis Antetokounmpo).
The Americans will have one final chance to work out the kinks when they face Canada in an exhibition game in Sydney on Monday before traveling to China and taking on the Czech Republic in their FIBA World Cup opener on Sept. 1.