DONGGUAN, China – The United States was expelled from the medal dispute for France at the FIBA World Cup, unable to capture gold in an important international tournament for the first time since the 2006 world championships.
Evan Fournier scored 22 points, Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 16 rebounds, and France beat the US Team. UU. 89-79 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, recovering a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to achieve surprise.
The United States had won 58 consecutive tournament games at FIBA and Olympic competition with NBA players, starting with the bronze medal game at the 2006 world championships and continuing at all FIBA Americas events, Copa World and Olympic Games since then. The United States was trying to become the first nation to win three consecutive World Cups, after winning three consecutive Olympic golds in that span.
The best that Americans can do now in China is to finish fifth. They return home with a place in the 2020 Olympics secured, but without a medal.
"We came here to win gold," Gobert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A lot of people excluded us, but we got the victory."
Gobert said that beating the Americans was not the goal, winning gold is.
"It means nothing if you don't win in the end," Gobert said.
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points for the USA. UU., All of them in the first three quarters. The Americans were left without a score in six consecutive possessions on the stretch, a drought that allowed the French to take control of a round-trip game.
Nando De Colo scored 18 for France.
France climbed 10 at the beginning of the second half. The United States had a 31-14 run in the next 10 minutes to go up by seven. Then the French responded with a 15-2 run in the next five minutes, climbing 82-76 on a long bridge by Frank Ntilikina with 2:05 remaining.
Mitchell had the opportunity to reach the USA. UU. Within two with about a minute remaining, driving against Gobert, but central France read what his Utah Jazz teammate would do perfectly, crushing the attempt.
France had been 0-9 against the USA. UU. In an important international game, most of those results were unilateral issues. But the last meeting between the nations was only a 100-97 U.S. victory at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games three years ago, and France returned three players, Gobert, De Colo and Nicolas Batum, who played in that game .
No American player who played that afternoon in Rio is on this year's World Cup team.
France beat the US UU. 21-12 in the first half, Gobert found his way to the line 10 times in the first 20 minutes of the game and the Americans entered the break with 45-39. The United States had a record of 8:25 in its first five games combined, but did so only Wednesday at 11:24.
Fournier's tray with 7:33 remaining in the third gave France a 53-43 lead, and that was when Mitchell got underway.
He had 14 points alone in the third quarter, and his dunk with 2:40 left left the United States in a 60-60 draw. Marcus Smart made three free throws after Gobert committed a foul to put the United States back on top, and the Americans took a 66-63 lead in the fourth.
But they couldn't finish it.
Gobert played the first 12:26. The most that happened before getting his first break in a Jazz game last season was at 11:30.
Ntilikina scored 11 for France.
Smart scored 11 and Kemba Walker had 10 for the USA. UU.
Prior to Mitchell's offensive outbreak on Wednesday, the previous single game record for any American player in this World Cup was Jaylen Brown's 20-point game against Japan in the group's opening round.
Jayson Tatum (left ankle sprain) missed his fourth consecutive game.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
France: He faces Argentina in the semifinals in Beijing on Friday.
US team: He faces Serbia in the consolation round in Dongguan on Thursday.