United States' coach Gregg Popovich looks on during a quarterfinal match against France for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Dongguan in southern China's Guangdong province on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. France defeated United States 89-79. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
basketball

U.S. beaten by France 89-79 in basketball World Cup quarterfinals

19 Comments
By TIM REYNOLDS

No gold. No medal. No more winning streak.

The U.S. reign atop international basketball has ended — this time, thwarted by France at the World Cup.

For the first time since 2006, the U.S. sent NBA players to a major international tournament and won't win gold. Evan Fournier scored 22 points, Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds and France beat the U.S. 89-79 in the World Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, rallying from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull off the upset.

"Any loss hurts," U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. "And in this situation, it hurts more. But life goes on. This is very important and we would have loved to have won ... but we're all grown, we all have families and lives and life goes on."

The U.S. had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition, starting with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 world championships and continuing through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics event since. It was bidding to become the first nation to win three consecutive World Cups, after winning three straight Olympic golds in that span.

The best the Americans can do now in China is finish fifth, and they're assured of their worst finish in a big tournament with NBA players since placing sixth at the 2002 world championships. They're going home with a berth in the 2020 Olympics secured but no medal.

Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points for the U.S., all of them coming in the first three quarters. The Americans came up scoreless on six consecutive possessions down the stretch, the drought that allowed the French to take control of a back-and-forth game for the final time.

"Just got to take it like a man at this point," U.S guard Kemba Walker said. "We lost. There's nothing we can do. We competed. We've been competing since day one that we got to training camp. But we gave it everything we've got. I know we're Team USA and things of that nature and they've been winning for a lot of years, but you know, we didn't get a chance to pull it off."

Nando De Colo scored 18 for France. The French held the U.S. to 4 for 15 shooting in the fourth quarter — and benefited from the Americans going 4 for 11 from the foul line in the final 10 minutes.

"We came here to win gold," Gobert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A lot of people counted us out, but we got the win."

Gobert said beating the Americans wasn't the goal — winning gold is.

"It doesn't mean anything if you don't win in the end," Gobert said.

France was up 10 early in the second half. The U.S. went on a 31-14 run over the next 10 minutes to go up by seven. And then the French responded with a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, going up 82-76 on a long jumper by Frank Ntilikina with 2:05 left.

Mitchell had a chance to get the U.S. within two with about a minute left, driving against Gobert — but the Utah center read what the Utah guard was going to do perfectly, swatting the try away.

"We beat the U.S., and that's huge, but we haven't won anything yet," France's Nicolas Batum said.

France had been 0-9 against the U.S. in major international play, most of those outcomes one-sided affairs. But the last meeting between the nations was only a 100-97 U.S. win at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics three years ago, and France returned three players — Gobert, De Colo and Batum — who got minutes in that game.

None of the U.S. players who played that afternoon in Rio is on this year's World Cup team.

France outrebounded the U.S. 21-12 in the first half, Gobert found his way to the line 10 times in the game's first 20 minutes and the Americans went into the break trailing 45-39. The U.S. had trailed for 8:25 in their first five games combined — and trailed for 11:24 in the first half alone on Wednesday.

Fournier's layup with 7:33 left in the third gave France a 53-43 lead, and that's when Mitchell got going.

He had 14 points in the third quarter, and his dunk with 2:40 left pulled the U.S. into a 60-60 tie. Marcus Smart made three free throws after getting fouled by Gobert to put the U.S. back on top, and the Americans took a 66-63 lead into the fourth.

But they couldn't finish it off.

"At the end of the day, you've got to tip your cap to them," U.S. guard Joe Harris said. "They outplayed us. They deserved to win. We certainly didn't deserve to win that game."

OLYMPIC BERTHS

Australia's win over the Czech Republic in the other quarterfinal on Wednesday gave France something else to celebrate — an Olympic berth. Spain and France are assured of being the top two World Cup finishers from Europe, earning them automatic spots into the field for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Others qualified so far: the U.S., Nigeria, Iran, Australia, Argentina and Japan. The last four spots in the 12-team field will be decided next year.

UP NEXT

France: Faces Argentina in semifinals at Beijing on Friday.

U.S.: Faces Serbia in consolation round at Dongguan on Thursday.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


19 Comments
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Ouch.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ouch indeed!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not an upset if one team sends their best and the other team only has their C-Listers. C stands for Celtics and like 1/3 of the team were overrated Celtics players lol

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Perhaps if Team USA Coach Popovich and Assistant Coach Kerr spent a bit less time on politics , and more on basketball, the team might have performed better. 

It has become very tedious to listen to these two hoop gurus tell us what we need to do to improve society.

Dare we say “ Shut up. And Coach.”?

The days of sending over college squad are long gone.

So too are the days of sending team of NBA role players (no criticism of their effort).

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Overconfidence is a personality flaw.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Awesome.

I cheer every time these overpaid babies get beaten by the rest of the world.

And it's always excuses, but we didn't send our best players!

How about realizing that the rest of the world has caught up to and in some cases surpassed America's NBA level talent.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Was always going to be close. All french players have nba experience and/or play for big euro clubs. Top euro NT such as spain, greece, france, serbia, lithuania, italy etc are basically mid-table nba teams with a european touch (a perhaps more fluid game). Same with aussies & argies (minus the euro touch but they do bring their own flavor). A US D perhaps E team was always going to struggle against these guys.

Gotta say kudos to the us team & Popovich for taking the loss like a champ. No excuses, no blaming the ref, was all 'we lost against a better team, good luck to the french etc' stuff. Pure class. Euros, aussies, brits, saffas, kiwis and pretty much everyone else in all/most sports listen and take notice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tres bien!!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's good for the sport when it's not dominated by one country for decades and decades. Now if only someone could figure out how to defeat England at football...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trump curse.

Popovich and Kerr cant stop talking about their Trump hate.

No wonder they didnt win with this kind of attitude/lack of effort.

but we're all grown, we all have families and lives and life goes on."

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

C'est bon.

Je suis tres heureux.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@The original wing. you must be joking right? when is the last time England won the World Cup?

im not American so don't really care but if the US sent their best players they would have won easily

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@The original wing. you must be joking right? when is the last time England won the World Cup

Sarcasm not your thing then?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bien joué la France !

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Now if only someone could figure out how to defeat England at football

It’s coming home!

Unless we play Belgium, or Iceland.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The warning signs were there. They were beaten by Australia in one of their warm up games in Australia before this tournament.

Well done Aussies for making the last 4. Get past Spain and its a shot at becoming world Champions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gone are the days when the US can just cobble together NBA players who've never played together before, play several practice games, and expect to win a global tournament against teams who've been playing together for years

But it's not the current squad's fault - a lot of the top NBA players have pulled out of the squad for one reason or another - some are valid like injuries (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson); some are just too tired for playing too much the last several seasons (Steph Curry and LeBron James have been playing all the way to the Finals year after year)

The US already accomplished their first goal in this World Cup by qualifying directly for next year's Olympics, and they already know that other countries are quite good now with their own NBA players too (heck, the 2 best players last night -- the US' Mitchell and France's Gobert-- are top teammates in the Utah Jazz), so this loss isn't really as surprising nor as painful as in years past

The US has always cared more for the Olympics gold than the FIBA championship, so rest assured some of those top absentees will be back for the Tokyo Olympics next year

I cheer every time these overpaid babies get beaten by the rest of the world.

Lol, so do ya remember the last time ya cheered then? Do ya remember 2006? That was the last year they were beaten before this year. The article even said:

"The U.S. had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition, starting with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 world championships and continuing through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics event since."

For 12 years they've been on an unbeaten streak. Ya realize ya waited that long just to do this!

How about realizing that the rest of the world has caught up to and in some cases surpassed America's NBA level talent.

C'mon man, don't over-exaggerate. They've won every tournament for 12 years before this current FIBA championship. Do ya even remember who was the last world champion that's not the US? No Googling! Lol

And the US knows the world can play now. Do ya know who was voted the NBA MVP this last season? He plays for Greece, Giannis Antetokounmpo - they call him "The Greek Freak." Some of the best NBA players last season have last names that end in -IC (Slavic names), including Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. The Most Improved Player of the Year (Pascal Siakam) is from Cameroon. And France's Gobert is Defensive Player of the Year (and as mentioned, Mitchell's Utah Jazz teammate).

The NBA's eyes on global talent have been wide open now since the days German Dirk Nowitzki winning NBA MVP and championship. Every NBA team now has top international talent. Heck, this FIBA World Cup includes a record 103 combined current NBA players, NBA draftees, and players with NBA experience - including 54 current NBA players from 17 different countries. The world's best players already play in the NBA.

The only people who don't know that the NBA already realized that are probably those people who don't follow the NBA in the first place.

but if the US sent their best players they would have won easily

Well, not easily, but they would've been the favorites - they've been unbeaten the last dozen years before this year. But the championship games have been competitive.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Absolutely spot on, lostrune (your post's basically an article in itself.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love how the US always comes up with the "we didnt send our top players" when it actually means the top players or their teams dont want them to go. When you push all the BS aside it basically comes down to the love of money over the love of country. You can just look at which country sends their best players to see which players truly look at representing their country as their highest honor even when they get paid big money in the leagues they represent

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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