Team USA Upset By France In FIBA World Cup Quarterfinals

Tanya Simon
September 12, 2019

Team USA basketball had won 58 consecutive worldwide games with NBA players - that was before Wednesday's quarterfinal matchup against France in the FIBA World Cup in China.

According to Aris Barkas of Eurohoops, Mitchell was asked after the game about those who chose to skip out on the Team USA experience.

France now moves on to face Argentina in the tournament semifinals on Friday.

For the first time since 2006, the US sent National Basketball Association players to a major global tournament and won't win gold. American superstars will likely return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it will be interesting to see if this becomes a World Cup trend or whether USA Basketball again responds to its first major tournament loss since the 2004 Athens Olympics.

To the surprise of nobody around here, Mitchell, still only 23 years old, emerged as an authentic, conscientious leader for Team USA. With center Rudy Gobert, wing Nicolas Batum and guards Evan Fournier and Frank Ntilikina, the French had about as many top-line pros as the Americans. He thinks this may have players taking action and saying, "Next time around the block we're gonna have to show up".

France outrebounded the US 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 US had trailed for 8:25 in their first five games combined - and trailed for 11:24 in the first half alone on Wednesday. He was averaging 14.6 points per game, the best scoring average on the team. 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.

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Shenanigans in the press and the revenge factor aside, though, Gobert was clearly the best player on the floor in this contest.

Both teams had similar shooting numbers, but France dominated on the boards and won the rebound battle, 44-28, while also shooting 17 more free throws than the US (84-67). Celtics forward Jayson Tatum missed the game with an ankle injury. "I couldn't be more proud of these 12 guys who sacrificed their summer to come here", said Popovich, the mastermind behind the San Antonio Spurs' success.

Australia's win over the Czech Republic in the other quarterfinal on Wednesday gave France something else to celebrate - an Olympic berth.

However, France finished the game out with a 26-13 fourth quarter.

Even though Team USA lost, with a roster that was young and mostly substandard when compared to rosters of the past, Mitchell, who may not have made that final roster had so many NBA All-Stars availed themselves for it, now has put himself in a position to make next year's U.S. Olympic team, regardless of who joins that cause.

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