What FIBA World Cup Loss To France Means For USA Basketball

USA v France: Quarter Final - FIBA World Cup 2019

DONGGUAN, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 11: #27 Rudy Gobert of France celebrates a point during the quarter final of 2019 FIBA World Cup between USA and France at Dongguan Basketball Center on September 11, 2019 in Dongguan, China. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty

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My fellow Americans, here is the sad, sobering truth about Wednesday’s 89-79 loss by Team USA to France at the FIBA World Cup in China: The better team won.

Oui, c'est la vérité.

Many writers will be quick to lay blame on someone from the American federation for this knockout defeat in the quarterfinals, because the blame game is easy to play.

But the fact of the matter is that because of the staggering number of defections and withdrawals from the national team roster, Team USA simply didn’t have the talent to match France’s two best players: Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and France outscored the United States by 26 points when he was on the court. Fournier shot 9-for-21 and made four 3-pointers in scoring a team-high 22 points, and France had an 11-0 run as part of a dominant fourth quarter in which they outscored Team USA 26-13.

So just like that, Team USA is heading home (after playing in the classification round for places 5th through 8th) with its 58-game unbeaten streak snapped and its pride wounded.

America has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and there is no doubt that the roster next summer will be loaded with All-Stars after the 2019 version had only two (and was further hampered by an ankle injury to Jayson Tatum that sidelined him for the final three games).

So there will be another “Redeem Team” a year from now, and America will again be heavily favored to win the gold medal. But the rest of the world caught up with the United States long ago, and trotting out a team of 12 superior athletes who have not played together before is a formula that has not always worked.

As France showed, team familiarity is invaluable in international competitions, and a majority of France’s players have been competing together on the national team for years.

The Americans? They seemed to be coming together as the tournament moved along, but only one player – Donovan Mitchell – showed up with a strong offensive game against France.

Kemba Walker shot 2-for-9, Khris Middleton shot 2-for-7 and Harrison Barnes was 1-for-3. That added up to a whole lot of nothing for a team that needed a second scorer to step up. (Curiously, Brook Lopez played only 4 1/2 minutes).

Team USA had only seven 3-pointers, and Myles Turner was thoroughly outplayed in the paint by Gobert, a two-time All-NBA Player whose offense is often underappreciated because he is such an exceptional defensive player.

When it was time to ice the game from the line, coach Vincent Collet knew who to give the ball to. Nando De Colo went 9-of-10 to put the game out of the reach.

Team USA had only 11 turnovers, but France used them to get 22 points.

"We came here to win gold," Gobert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A lot of people counted us out, but we got the win."

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My fellow Americans, here is the sad, sobering truth about Wednesday’s 89-79 loss by Team USA to France at the FIBA World Cup in China: The better team won.

Oui, c'est la vérité.

Many writers will be quick to lay blame on someone from the American federation for this knockout defeat in the quarterfinals, because the blame game is easy to play.

But the fact of the matter is that because of the staggering number of defections and withdrawals from the national team roster, Team USA simply didn’t have the talent to match France’s two best players: Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and France outscored the United States by 26 points when he was on the court. Fournier shot 9-for-21 and made four 3-pointers in scoring a team-high 22 points, and France had an 11-0 run as part of a dominant fourth quarter in which they outscored Team USA 26-13.

So just like that, Team USA is heading home (after playing in the classification round for places 5th through 8th) with its 58-game unbeaten streak snapped and its pride wounded.

America has already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and there is no doubt that the roster next summer will be loaded with All-Stars after the 2019 version had only two (and was further hampered by an ankle injury to Jayson Tatum that sidelined him for the final three games).

So there will be another “Redeem Team” a year from now, and America will again be heavily favored to win the gold medal. But the rest of the world caught up with the United States long ago, and trotting out a team of 12 superior athletes who have not played together before is a formula that has not always worked.

As France showed, team familiarity is invaluable in international competitions, and a majority of France’s players have been competing together on the national team for years.

The Americans? They seemed to be coming together as the tournament moved along, but only one player – Donovan Mitchell – showed up with a strong offensive game against France.

Kemba Walker shot 2-for-9, Khris Middleton shot 2-for-7 and Harrison Barnes was 1-for-3. That added up to a whole lot of nothing for a team that needed a second scorer to step up. (Curiously, Brook Lopez played only 4 1/2 minutes).

Team USA had only seven 3-pointers, and Myles Turner was thoroughly outplayed in the paint by Gobert, a two-time All-NBA Player whose offense is often underappreciated because he is such an exceptional defensive player.

When it was time to ice the game from the line, coach Vincent Collet knew who to give the ball to. Nando De Colo went 9-of-10 to put the game out of the reach.

Team USA had only 11 turnovers, but France used them to get 22 points.

"We came here to win gold," Gobert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A lot of people counted us out, but we got the win."

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