U.S. Upset by France at Basketball World Cup
A makeshift United States men’s basketball team, lacking the N.B.A.’s biggest stars, was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup on Wednesday, 89-79, by France, in Dongguan, China.
The United States had won five consecutive gold medals, at the World Cup and the Olympics. The last time it did not was at the 2006 World Cup, when it won a bronze medal. This is the first time the United States has left a major competition without a medal since 2002.
Evan Fournier of the N.B.A.’s Orlando Magic topped France with 22 points, and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz had 16 rebounds. Frank Ntilikina of the Knicks scored several key points down the stretch.
Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz led the United States with 29 points, but he failed to score in the fourth quarter, when the game was decided.
Most of the biggest American stars passed on this championship for one reason or another, leaving a team of talented players, but only two N.B.A. All-Stars: Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton. Among the players who dropped out were Anthony Davis, James Harden and Damian Lillard.
The Americans had been undefeated in the preliminary rounds of the World Cup — barely. They needed overtime and some timely missed free throws to defeat Turkey.
Mitchell’s 15-point half kept the Americans within 45-39 at intermission, but the game was played on France’s terms. Gobert kept rolling to the rim and causing problems. Fournier seemed like a different player with his national team’s jersey on.
The United States rallied in the third quarter, taking a 3-point lead as Coach Gregg Popovich went to a smaller lineup and the Americans played their best team ball of the tournament. But the fourth quarter belonged to France.
The United States was without Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, who sprained his left ankle in overtime against Turkey.
On the plus side, the United States did qualify for the 2020 Olympics, by finishing in the top two of Western Hemisphere teams, alongside Argentina, which will play France in the semifinals. Spain will meet either Australia or the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.
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