Sep 12, 2019

Team USA's FIBA World Cup loss spotlights international basketball's strength

Team USA and Team France during the 2019 basketball world cup

Photo: VCG/Getty Images

The U.S. men's national basketball team lost to France, 89-79, in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup — a loss that fans knew could happen but never actually believed would.

The big picture: The warning signs were there for months, France is really good and this seems to happen every 16 years.

  • The U.S. had won 58 straight games in FIBA and Olympic competition, dating back to its loss to Greece in the 2006 world championship, which led to a bronze medal.

Game recap: France's inside-outside combination of NBA stars Rudy Gobert (21 pts, 16 reb) and Evan Fournier (22 pts, 4 ast) dominated, while Gobert's Jazz teammate, Donovan Mitchell, led all scorers with 29 points. (Highlights)

The silver lining: It's "hard to view this development as anything other than a positive, for several reasons," writes The Ringer’s Zach Kram, citing growth of the sport, among other things.

  • "[A] clean U.S. sweep through the 2019 World Cup field, lackadaisical roster and all, might have appeared to be more of a calamity for the international game than the U.S. loss appears to be for the Team USA program," which might actually be able to recruit a better Olympic roster as a result.
  • "In the past, the sport expanded in part because of Team USA's dominance. But now, international basketball has never looked stronger; ironically, it's up to the Americans to keep up with the rest of the world."

What's next: Team USA plays Serbia today in the 5th-place game, while France plays Argentina in tomorrow's semifinal (the other semifinal is Spain-Australia).

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