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Basketball giants USA knocked out in World Cup quarter-finals by France

No gold. No medal. No more winning streak.

The US reign atop international basketball has ended — this time, thwarted by France at the World Cup.

For the first time since 2006, the US sent NBA players to a major international tournament and won't win gold. Evan Fournier scored 22 points, Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds and France beat the U.S. 89-79 in the World Cup quarterfinals this morning, rallying from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull off the upset.

"Any loss hurts," US coach Gregg Popovich said. "And in this situation, it hurts more. But life goes on. This is very important and we would have loved to have won ... but we're all grown, we all have families and lives and life goes on."

The US had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition, starting with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 world championships and continuing through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics event since. It was bidding to become the first nation to win three consecutive World Cups, after winning three straight Olympic golds in that span.

The best the Americans can do now in China is finish fifth, and they're assured of their worst finish in a big tournament with NBA players since placing sixth at the 2002 world championships. They're going home with a berth in the 2020 Olympics secured but no medal.

Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points for the US, all of them coming in the first three quarters. The Americans came up scoreless on six consecutive possessions down the stretch, the drought that allowed the French to take control of a back-and-forth game for the final time.

"Just got to take it like a man at this point," US guard Kemba Walker said. "We lost. There's nothing we can do. We competed. We've been competing since day one that we got to training camp. But we gave it everything we've got. 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."

Nando De Colo scored 18 for France. The French held the US to 4 for 15 shooting in the fourth quarter — and benefited from the Americans going 4 for 11 from the foul line in the final 10 minutes.

"We came here to win gold," Gobert said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. A lot of people counted us out, but we got the win."

Gobert said beating the Americans wasn't the goal — winning gold is.

"It doesn't mean anything if you don't win in the end," Gobert said.

He and France could have to go through Australia, who were led by Patty Mills' 24 points in their 82-70 victory over the Czech Republic.

Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova of Australia Source: Associated Press

Chris Goulding scored 14 and Andrew Bogut added 10 for the Boomers, which will meet Spain in Friday's semifinals. France meet Argentina in the other semifinal.

The first half was back and forth, with Australia leading 33-30 at the break. But a 30-18 third quarter was the difference for the Aussies, who led by as many as 17 in the second half.

Patrik Auda scored 21 points for the Czech Republic. Tomas Satoransky was one rebound shy of the first triple-double in World Cup history — he finished with 13 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Australia, which beat the US in an exhibition last month while tuning up for the World Cup, improved to 6-0 so far in China this summer.

France's Mathias Lessort, contests the ball with United States' Marcus Smart. Source: Associated Press


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