Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Team USA’s Backup Squad Finally Falls in FIBA World Cup

US basketball player Jaylen Brown and France's Andrew Albicy during a quarter-final match of the basketball World Cup in China on Sept 11 2019 Team USA’s Backup Squad Finally Falls in FIBA World Cup
Shannon Reynolds | 12 September, 2019, 00:38

Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier led the way for the French.

The players who chose not to be a part of this year's United States of America team assembled for the FIBA World Cup were a bigger topic of conversation than the players who were actually a part of it.

France (5-1) advances to face Argentina (6-0) in one semifinal on Friday in Beijing. The Americans rebounded to win gold at the Beijing Olympics two years later and also won the two Olympic tournaments that followed. This version of Team USA will bear no resemblance to the squad that will play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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This will be the first time the United States have failed to win a medal at the World Cup since 2002, when they finished sixth. The team will need to add more floor-spacers and versatile big men, as both were areas of weakness for the '19 iteration of the team that were exposed against France. France led by 10 early in the third quarter but the Americans countered with a 31-14 run over the next 10 minutes to take a five-point lead. Team USA is the other team in the classification round. Donovan Mitchell looked really good against France as he was able to score in a plethora of ways, and he appears poised to take a major step forward this season.

Argentina were excellent as they beat the Nikola Jokic-led Serbia 97-87 on Tuesday, and France followed that up with an impressive 89-79 win over the powerful United States. He has already established himself as one of the best defensive players in the National Basketball Association, and like Mitchell, he appears primed for a big-time season in Utah.

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. The team had too many isolation plays on offense, particularly for Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker.

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