Streak ends: US men’s basketball falls to Australia, 98-94

AP Photo/Andy Brownbill
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The World Cup is a week away, and the United States is no lock for gold.

Australia delivered that message to the world on Saturday.

For the first time in nearly 13 years, a U.S. roster of NBA players played an international game — and lost. Patty Mills scored 30 points, and Australia rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to stun the Americans 98-94 and snap a 78-game U.S. winning streak that started with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 world championships.

“They wanted it more than us tonight,” U.S. guard Kemba Walker said. “Lesson learned for us.”

It was the first loss for the U.S. in a major international tournament or exhibition since the 2006 world championship semifinals against Greece. The Americans won the bronze there, then were unbeaten through the cycles for the 2007 FIBA Americas, 2008 Olympics, 2010 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Add all that up, along with wins over Spain and Australia with this team, and it was a 78-game winning streak for the U.S. — the longest in program history.

And it’s now over.

Milwaukee Bucks all-star Khris Middleton started for the Americans, playing 13 minutes and scoring 4 points. Teammate Brook Lopez played 4 minutes, missing his only field goal attempt.