Sep 12, 2019

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

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).

Go deeper: The NBA playoffs are a global affair

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Simone Biles leads U.S. women's gymnastics to world title amid turmoil

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The U.S. women's gymnastics team, led by superstar Simone Biles, won its 5th straight world title yesterday at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

By the numbers: Biles' 15th career gold medal brings her total medal count to 21, moving her past Russia's Svetlana Khorkina for the most by a woman and inching her closer to Vitaly Scherbo's record for both men and women (23).

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

There are no dynasties in modern baseball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2016, the Cubs snapped a 108-year World Series drought and seemed destined to build a modern dynasty. 3 years later, they've been eliminated from the playoffs following a late-season collapse — and could be set for sweeping changes this offseason.

Why it matters: The death of the Cubs' dynasty (that never really existed) proves just how difficult it is to sustain greatness in baseball.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019

Women’s World Cup earned more than 2x expected ad revenue

Photo: Naomi Baker - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

In the midst of a bitter fight for equal pay, advertisers bought nearly $100 million in U.S. television commercials during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: In response to pay gaps between USA men's and women's soccer, many argue male teams simply drive more revenue and therefore receive greater pay. The women's TV ad sales are arguably another point in dismissing that logic.

Go deeperArrowSep 16, 2019