The most unfortunate thing about the international men’s teams that have been sent to tournaments in the last few years is the continued use of the moniker “Dream Team.” The 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team was not just a squad packed with NBA all-stars, it was a team of Hall of Fame players: Jordan, Magic, Bird, Drexler, Barkley, and on and on. The 2004 edition has Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, but beyond them, it’s a very young, very inexperienced group of players. And hoo boy, did Puerto Rico expose their lack of experience today, schooling the U.S. 92-73 in the first ever Olympic loss by an American team with professional players on it.

Puerto Rico’s defensive strategy was simple: pack the paint with a tight zone, and dare the Americans to shoot it from outside. It worked to perfection, as U.S. players tried time and again to slash through the zone, ran into a wall of bodies, and kicked the ball out to shoot bricks and airballs. P.R.’s offensive strategy? They didn’t need one. Outside of Duncan and Iverson, none of the U.S. players bothered to play defense for more than a couple of plays at a time. P.R. Point guard Carlos Arroyo ran circles around the Americans, and any shots he didn’t make were picked up by Larry Ayuso or Eddie Casiano.

There were a couple of bright spots in the U.S. performance. Duncan was his usual solid self, but could only do so much in the paint while sitting at the bottom of a pig-pile of defenders. Iverson is known as a scorer’s scorer, but he was also the only American player really trying to defend on the perimeter. Lamar Odom seemed to be able to find the seams in P.R.’s zone, but foul trouble kept him on the bench. Dwayne Wade showed good hustle and speed, and had the good sense to avoid chucking up errant three-point shots, forcing his way through defenders in a way that reminds me of, well, Iverson.

The most galling thing about the loss is that it came against a team that the U.S. had dominated all through the qualifying tournament and warmup series. The difference was that Puerto Rico realized that you’re supposed to step up your game when you get to the show, while the Americans seemed sluggish and confused by the fact that other teams might have looked at their unbalanced roster (too many slashers, no true shooters) and come up with strategies to take advantage of that.

The international game has come a long way in the last twelve years, and to some extent they have the publicity drummed up by the original Dream Team to thank for that. If the current Dream Team wants to reestablish U.S. dominance over the sport, or even just remain respectable, they’re going to have to either magically develop better outside shooting or play much better defense. Better defense will lead to fast-break points, and despite the increasing level of competition, no one runs a better, flashier (read: more demoralizing to the opponent) fast-break than the Americans. The U.S. team just has to realize that the rest of the world isn’t going to help them turn the tournament into an exhibition; they’re going to have to do it on their own.