Published: Thu, September 12, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Team USA Basketball Can Fix Itself Before Tokyo Olympics

Team USA Basketball Can Fix Itself Before Tokyo Olympics

The Americans dropped their FIBA World Cup battle with France in an 89-79 loss on Wednesday morning, marking the United States' first global competition without a gold medal since 2006.

The loss snapped a streak of 58 straight victories for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup.

Even though head coach Gregg Popovich has largely treated Team USA as an equal opportunity roster, its frankly perplexing the degree to which Mitchell was frozen out down the stretch. According to France's Nicolas Batum, those comments fired up the Jazz center, who paced his team with 21 points, 16 boards, three blocked shots and a steal.

As the duo began to tire, Team USA hit back thanks to a one-man show from Donovan Mitchell, who netted 14 of his 29 points in the third quarter to give the 2014 champions a 66-63 lead ahead of the final 10 minutes.

In classic Gobert style, he said after beating Team USA: "We came here to win gold". The Americans were still the favourites, but there had never been less of a talent gap between them and the rest of the planet. "It doesn't mean anything if you don't win in the end", said Gobert, who plays for the Utah Jazz in the National Basketball Association.

The loss by the Czechs also wraps up the final two automatic qualifying spots for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, As the last two European squads remaining, Spain and France are locked into next year's field.

"We know everybody wants to play next year in the Olympics, but our focus is on the World Cup and the guys we have here, we're excited to have the people we have".

"We came here to win gold", Gobert said.

Having ground out a barely deserved 93-92 overtime win over Turkey in the preliminary group stage, there was to be no escape for the United States this time against an athletic French side who dominated them in every department. Boston Celtics guards Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. And then the French responded with a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, going up 82-76 on a long jumper by Frank Ntilikina with 2:05 left.

France had been 0-9 against the U.S. in major worldwide play, most of those outcomes one-sided affairs.

None of the United States players who played that afternoon in Rio are on this year's World Cup team. He scored a team-high 22 points and had four assists. Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier led the way for the French.

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