The 2023 FIBA World Cup has registered its first shocking upset. Team France, winners of the silver medal in the 2021 Olympics and led by three-time NBA All-Star center Rudy Gobert, who by day plays for the Timberwolves, has been eliminated from tournament contention after a scant two games, writes The Associated Press. The club will play a third group-play contest on Tuesday vs. Lebanon, but neither club will advance to the next round.
France was bested by Team Latvia, 88-86, Sunday night. Latvia and Team Canada, who defeated France on Friday, now move on to the second round. France had won bronze at the two most recent World Cups, eliminating Team USA in the knockout round in 2019.
Here are more notes on Team France:
- Following Canada’s win over France on Friday, French forward Guerschon Yabusele, a former Celtics power forward, discussed some quick takeaways from the matchup, per Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoop. “Of course there are a lot of things to learn,” Yabusele said. “The way we came into the game. The first quarter was good and then we entered the second half with less intensity. We let them play and do their stuff. Defense, offense, we all saw what went wrong in the video.”
- Team Canada’s 95-65 massacre of Team France could serve as a galvanizing moment in the long-term trajectory of the Great White North’s national program, opines Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Such a dominant victory, and hopefully an extended World Cup run, could well set the table for a deep, talented Canadian club to make a legitimate push for a medal in next summer’s Paris Olympics, Grange argues. Thanks to the win on Friday, Grange believes Team Canada should handily storm to a 3-0 record in Group H play.
- With fifth-ranked France now out of contention, the national team will strive to reset and prep for the 2024 Olympic games, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. As the host nation, France has automatically qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics. “It’s very hard,” Knicks guard Evan Fournier said of his national club’s morale after its miserable 2023 FIBA performance. “Not much to say. We didn’t think we would leave the tournament like this. We have to learn from it and come back next year. There isn’t anything else to do.” Clippers forward Nicolas Batum spoke about the task ahead of France in international competition: “We have a big thing coming up in 12 months. We have to now look back at what happened — everybody, from players to coach to staff to federation. … Today was a big reality check for us.”
- The 34-year-old Batum confirmed in a live broadcast following France’s defeat that he will not play for his national club in the 2027 FIBA World Cup, according to Eurohoops. “This is my last World Cup,” Batum said. “I sacrificed many summers for this jersey and I don’t regret it… I have one more year left in France. We need them all next summer in Paris. And the best possible conditions. I messed up my last World Cup and it really hurts. That’s why I’m not interested in politics and I want the strongest possible team next summer at the Olympic Games.”