In a battle of Utah Jazz teammates, Rudy Gobert and Les Bleus eliminated would-be World Cup favorites Donovan Mitchell and Team USA with an 89-79 win at Dongfeng Nissan Cultural and Sports Centre in Dongguan, China.
The loss snaps Team USA's 58-game win streak in worldwide competition with National Basketball Association players on the roster. Evan Fournier scored 22 points while Rudy Gobert scored 21 points and recorded 16 rebounds in the win.
The U.S. men's national basketball team will not medal in a major global competition for the first time since the 2002 FIBA World Championship, when an embarrassing performance inevitably led to a complete revamping of the program. "I know we're Team USA and things of that nature and they've been winning for a lot of years, but you know, we didn't get a chance to pull it off". Neither team is in contention for a medal so both squads will probably look to provide some entertainment and avoid injury.
Coach Gregg Popovich deflected talk about his missing megastars after Team USA's glorious run in major competition came to a juddering halt on Wednesday at the hands of France.
That was him blocking Mitchell's shot on a drive to the basket at the end of a key possession for the US late, one of the occurrences Gobert is sure to remind his teammate of when they reconvene in the weeks ahead in the run-up to preseason camp.
Though Team USA lost, players showed growth throughout the tournament. 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. Gobert rested only six minutes and wound up a game-high plus-26.
Fournier's layup with 7:33 left in the third gave France a 53-43 lead, and that's when Mitchell got going. He scored 14 points in the third quarter alone, after Team USA fell behind by double-digits. Trailing for much of the game, the US rode Mitchell to a second-half comeback, even taking a 74-67 lead in the final eight minutes.
"If they didn't come here, that's on them", Mitchell said. Team USA will need to seriously raise its game in 2020 to win gold. France dominated them on the boards.