Team USA has been eliminated from medal contention in the 2019 World Cup, having been upset by France in today’s quarterfinal matchup. The 89-79 defeat snapped USA Basketball’s 58-game winning streak in international games featuring rosters made up of NBA players. That streak dated back to the 2006 World Championship.
Donovan Mitchell had a big game for the American squad with a team-high 29 points, but a French team led by Rudy Gobert (21 points, 16 rebounds) and Evan Fournier (22 points) pulled out the comeback win to advance to a semifinal showdown vs. Argentina. Team USA will have its much-anticipated matchup with Nikola Jokic and the Serbians after all, but it will happen in the 5-8 classification round instead of in the semifinals.
Frank Ntilikina also played a key role for Team France today, scoring 11 points and essentially taking Kemba Walker out of the game on the other end before also helping to slow Mitchell in the fourth quarter. We noted last week that an impressive World Cup showing could have an impact on Ntilikina’s NBA future, since the Knicks have a big decision due next month on his 2020/21 team option. He has made a strong impression so far.
Since Team USA had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics, today’s result won’t affect the club’s standing for that tournament. Still, it will be interesting to see whether a disappointing World Cup run impacts the sort of turnout the program gets next summer. It’s possible that stars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, and others will now be more willing to play in Tokyo to reclaim Team USA’s spot atop the international basketball world.
With Argentina set to play France in one semifinal, the other matchup will be set after the conclusion of this morning’s Australia/Czech Republic quarterfinal. The winner of that game will face Spain. The last two European teams standing will clinch spots in the 2020 Olympics, so an Australian victory today would ensure that France and Spain secure Olympic berths.