France stun USA to reach semis at FIBA World Cup
A 17-4 run in the fourth quarter inspired France to a stunning 89-79 victory over defending champions USA in the quarterfinal of FIBA Basketball World Cup in Dongguan, China on Wednesday, setting up a semifinal clash with Argentina.
Jaylen Brown of the U.S. in action with France's Rudy Gobert during the FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter final match between France and the United States at Dongguan Basketball Center, Dongguan, China, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. [Photo: Pool via AP via IC/Kim Kyung-Hoon]
It was the first time that the USA has failed to win the title in a major international tournament since the 2006 world championships.
"Any loss hurts, this situation hurts more, but life goes on," Gregg Popovich said after the bitter loss.
"We are very happy. Team USA has quality players, but we have more experience," France coach Vincent Collet said.
Evan Fournier scored 22 points and Rudy Gobert added 21 for France, while Donovan Mitchell had 29 points for the USA.
The game seesawed during the first three quarters and the U.S. led 66-63 into the fourth quarter. Harrison Barnes scored four points and Kemba Walker added a jump-shot to lift the U.S. a 72-65 lead, forcing France to call a timeout. France stormed to a 17-4 spurt and regained an 82-76 lead with two minutes on the clock. Joe Harris was fouled out and De Colo made two free-throws as France led 84-78 with 50 seconds to go. A foul strategy didn't work for the Americans and France was left smiling to the end.
After the tip-off, Fournier's jump-shot opened the scoring for France, before Mitchell scored five straight points for the USA. Both sides suffered from a low field goal percentage to tie 18-18 to enter the second quarter.
Nando De Colo scored a three-pointer and Mathias Lessort turned around to drop a shot as France led 27-22 at the beginning of the second quarter. However, Jaylen Brown delivered a three-point play before Mitchell scored four straight points as Team USA railed to a 7-0 run and took the lead at 29-27. However, Fournier and Gobert combined 16 points and France increased their advantage to 45-39 before the halftime break.
France continued its run in the second half and enlarged the gap to ten points at 53-43. However, Mitchell stood out to score nine points in three minutes to lead the Americans' 17-7 run and pull the game all level at 60 all. Mitchell added another three to gift the U.S. a 66-63 lead into the fourth quarter, only to see France's crazy performance in the last ten minutes.
France was 0-9 down against the U.S. in major tournaments before this game. But the French players didn't have many celebrations after the history-making victory.
"We came here to win gold, it doesn't mean anything if you don't win in the end," Gobert said.