By Daniel Etchells |
France ended the United States’ hopes of becoming the first team to win the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup three times in a row, after claiming an 89-79 quarter-final win over their illustrious opponents in China.
Nando de Colo scored nine out of 10 free throws to put the game out of the reach of the US, who suffered their first FIBA World Cup defeat since the 2006 semi-finals.
Evan Fournier was unstoppable for France early on at Dongguan Basketball Center, scoring 20 of his 22 points over the first three quarters.
Player of the game Rudy Gobert registered 21 points and 16 rebounds, while De Colo scored 18 points and Frank Ntilikina finished with 11.
Donovan Mitchell managed 29 points for the US, the most for any American player in the tournament, but it was in vain.
“Any loss hurts and, in this situation, it hurts more. But life goes on,” US coach Gregg Popovich said.
“This is very important and we would have loved to have won – just like any other team would love to win their games in this tournament.
“But we’re all grown, we all have families and lives, and life will go on.”
Victory for France sets up a last-four encounter with Argentina, 97-87 victors over Serbia yesterday.
The other penultimate-round clash pits Spain against Australia, who qualified for the semi-finals of the FIBA World Cup for the first time with an 82-70 win over Czech Republic.
The Czechs kept things close for two quarters before Australia turned up the tempo and pulled away at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
Patty Mills, Chris Goulding and Andrew Bogut carried the Aussies, combining to score 48 points as the team maintained its perfect record in China.
Czech Republic, meanwhile, drew 21 points from Patrik Auda and a sublime performance from Tomáš Satoranský, who tallied 13 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.
The FIBA World Cup continues tomorrow with the fifth-to-eighth-place classification games between Serbia and the US, and Poland and Czech Republic.
The semi-finals are scheduled for Friday (September 13) before the medal matches on Sunday (September 15).
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.