The United States will not be able to complete their quest for a three-peat after losing to France 89-79 on Wednesday. San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White recorded four points in the loss.
In a matchup between two of the strongest teams in the tournament, France was able to hold off Team USA and advance to the FIBA World Cup Semi-Finals. France was able to hold on to the win thanks to stellar performances from Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.
Much has been made of top American NBA players declining to participate in this year’s competition. The impact of not having stars like James Harden and Anthony Davis was clear in this matchup. France clearly had the best two NBA players on the floor.
San Antonio Spurs and Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich tried to make adjustments to limit Gobert’s impact. The aptly nicknamed “Stifle Tower” still found ways to make his presence felt.
Gobert showed why he’s regarded as one of the best big men in the league, finishing with a dominant stat line of 21 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Fournier contributed 22 points and former San Antonio Spur Nando De Colo added 18 points.
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Carrying the scoring load for the USA was Gobert’s Utah Jazz teammate, Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell led the way with 29 points. Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker were the only other Americans to finish with double-digit points, with 11 and 10 respectively.
The United States fielded a guard/wing heavy roster and the downsides of that team makeup were felt today. France dominated them on the boards. With a 13 to 9 offensive rebound advantage and a 44 to 28 total rebound advantage, Gobert and France controlled the glass from start to finish.
Even though the team fell short of their ultimate goal San Antonio Spurs fans have to feel encouraged by Derrick White’s performance throughout the tournament. On a roster loaded with talented guards, White’s contributions were somewhat limited.
Averaging just around 14 minutes per game, White has averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 assists so far. International competition, and coming up shy of a gold medal, is sure to motivate White even more. Spurs fans and coaches expect big things from him this season.
The Americans will now play Serbia in what is, at this point, a pointless game. Neither team is in contention for a medal so both squads will probably look to provide some entertainment and avoid injury.
Given the circumstances, it would be nice to see Popovich play White more in the matchup with Serbia. The Serbian team features NBA players like Nikola Jokic and Bogdan Bogdanovic so it should still be an entertaining game.
France moves on to Beijing to play in the semifinals against a scrappy Argentinian team. The other semi-final matchup will showcase Patty Mills and the Australians against Spain.