France 89, US 79

France stages rally to stun US in basketball World Cup

The Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes up for a shot in the World Cup quarterfinal gainst France.
The Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes up for a shot in the World Cup quarterfinal gainst France.Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

DONGGUAN, China — 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 US, 89-79, in the World Cup quarterfinals Wednesday, rallying from a 7-point fourth-quarter deficit.

‘‘Any loss hurts,’’ US coach Gregg Popovich said. ‘‘And in this situation, it hurts more. But life goes on.”

The US had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition.


The best the Americans can do now is finish fifth.

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

‘‘Just got to take it like a man at this point,’’ said US guard and new Celtic Kemba Walker. ‘‘We lost. There’s nothing we can do.”

Nando De Colo scored 18 for France, which 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.

France was up 10 early in the second half. The US went on a 31-14 run over the next 10 minutes to go up by 7. And then the French responded with a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, going up, 82-76, on a long jumper by Frank Ntilikina with 2:05 left.


Mitchell had a chance to get the US within 2 with about a minute left, driving against Gobert, but the Utah center read what the Utah guard was going to do perfectly, swatting the try away.

‘‘We beat the US, and that’s huge, but we haven’t won anything yet,’’ France’s Nicolas Batum said.

France had been 0-9 against the US in major international play, most of those outcomes one-sided affairs. But the last meeting between the nations was only a 100-97 US win at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics three years ago, and France returned three players — Gobert, De Colo, and Batum — who got minutes in that game.

None of the US players who played that afternoon in Rio are on this year’s World Cup team.

France outrebounded the US, 21-12, in the first half, Gobert found his way to the line 10 times in the game’s first 20 minutes and the Americans went into the break trailing, 45-39. The US had trailed for 8:25 in their first five games combined — and trailed for 11:24 in the first half alone Wednesday.

Fournier’s layup with 7:33 left in the third gave France a 53-43 lead, and that’s when Mitchell got going.

He had 14 points in the third quarter, and his dunk with 2:40 left pulled the US into a 60-60 tie. Marcus Smart made three free throws after getting fouled by Gobert to put the US back on top, and the Americans took a 66-63 lead into the fourth.


But they couldn’t finish it off.

‘‘You’ve got to tip your cap to them,’’ US guard Joe Harris said. ‘‘They outplayed us. They deserved to win.”