USA basketball team suffered a massive upset in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup in China. Gregg Popovich’s boys lost against France 79-89 and now have to leave the throne after 9 years of reign.
The US team looked a bit disorganized and scared against an excellent french squad led by Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier. Those two were setting the pace on the defensive and offensive part of the court, respectively. At one moment, it seemed that American side might come back, as they turned the tide into their favor, but that was just a temporary spark of Walker and the boys.
This is the first loss of the American team after 58 consecutive competitive games in FIBA and Olympic tournaments. The last one was in 2006 when Greece defeated them in the semis of the World Cup in Japan.
The game started pretty tight, with both teams scoring just 18 points in the first period. It was a tough and fierce battle, and already then, we could see some signs that Popovich’s boys aren’t playing as they should.
But truth to be told, it was mostly because France didn’t allow them to. Loaded with NBA potential, and the players who are leaders in their clubs, the Gauls were extremely strong in defense.
The break saw Vincent Collet’s squad up 4 points, 45-41, which was extended with a good start in the third quarter. It was Charlotte Hornets’ Nicola Batum who drilled a four-point play to give a 10-point lead to the French side. Still, the inspired Donovan Mitchell, who was the only bright spot in the American crew, initiated a 23-10 run of the champions, during which he himself delivered 12 points. In those moments, the USA was ahead, and for sure Popovich’s team had momentum. The biggest lead for the Americans in that sequence was 7 points.
Yet that didn’t break the morale of the French team. They made a 13-2 rush, which stunned the rivals. Being six points up with three minutes to go, France was calm and organized, while on the other side, the United States was completely disturbed.
They missed 7 of 11 free-throw attempts in the final quarter, with Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart recording two misses each in the closing minutes of the event. On the other side, Gobert shut down the paint, and with two rejections, one on Walker and second on Mitchell, swept away the chances of the US team to compete for the title again.
🇺🇸 Etats-Unis 7️⃣9️⃣
🇫🇷 France 8️⃣9️⃣
🔝 Rudy Gobert – 21 points (6/12), 16 rebonds, 3 contres#FIBAWC
— Cyril Camacho (@cyril_cmch) September 11, 2019
The Utah Jazz center had 21 points, 16 boards, 3 blocks, and was a pivotal figure in this win. Orlando’s Fournier posted 22 buckets, while Nando de Colo had 18, and was ice-cold in the decisive moments from the free-throw line.
“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.”
It is almost unbelievable to see that the American side had just 28 rebounds, compared to 44 by the French. It is one of the most surprising things in this match.
Superb Donovan Mitchell had 30 points, with 6 boards, but he didn’t get proper help from the teammates. Marcus Smart had 11; Walker ended with 10.
Team USA will play against Serbia already tomorrow, in the classification round.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.