France knock out holders US, Australia, enter semis - GulfToday

France knock out holders US, Australia, enter semis

France knock out holders US, Australia, enter semis

France’s Rudy Gobert (27) dunks the ball during their Basketball World Cup quarter-final match against US in Dongguan on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Rudy Gobert scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as France handed the holders United States their first loss in the FIBA World Cup in 13 years on Wednesday to advance to the semi-finals in China with an 89-79 win.

France will play next on Friday against Argentina, who advanced by defeating Serbia on Tuesday night.

Shooting guard Donovan Mitchell of the NBA’s Utah Jazz scored 29 points as he helped the Americans to cut down a 10-point French advantage in the third quarter and seize back the lead in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

But the French came back, led by the imposing Gobert and sharp-shooting small forward Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic.

Fournier slashed to the hoop for a driving lay-up to give France the lead again at 78-76 and they held off the Americans through the final minutes.

The writing has been on the wall for the USA squad, which sent a team of second-tier stars to the competition and promptly suffered a shock loss to Australia in a warm-up exhibition two weeks ago.

The loss in Melbourne was the first for the United States, who were favourites to win their third successive and sixth overall world title, in 78 consecutive games in major competitions and exhibition games.

The only positive they will take from the tournament is that they have qualified for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo alongside Australia, Argentina, Iran and Nigeria.

The tournament’s top two European nations will also advance to the 2020 Games, joining hosts Japan who gained an automatic berth.

Meanwhile, San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills was in sparkling form once more for Australia as they reached the basketball World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in 11 previous appearances, defeated tournament debutants the Czech Republic 82-70 and will meet Spain on Friday.

This was undefeated Australia’s sixth win in a row in China and in doing so they avoided becoming the latest surprise casualty at this unpredictable World Cup.

The 31-year-old guard Mills led the scoring with 24 points. He also had six assists and four rebounds.

Australia were heavy favourites in Shanghai against the Czechs, who bravely hung on until midway through the third quarter, when the Boomers cranked up the pressure.

Australia survived the World Cup “Group of Death” also including Canada, Senegal and Lithuania, before beating the Dominican Republic and then fellow semi-finalists France.

Veteran Australian Andrew Bogut was again loudly booed throughout by fans in Shanghai upset with a tweet he wrote in July about Chinese swimming star Sun Yang.

He goaded the crowd afterwards with a dance as he came off the court.

The Philippines Basketball coach resigned and apologised to the hoops-mad nation on Wednesday after the national squad failed to win a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup and finished dead last.

Yeng Guiao’s team were blown out by a combined 105 points by Italy and Serbia to open their campaign in Group D at the tournament in China, and also lost to Angola in overtime, 84-81.

The Gilas, ranked 31st in the world, fared no better in the classification round, losing by large margins to Tunisia and Iran to finish last out of the 32 nations competing.

“I am sorry we could not deliver a better performance. Our players gave their best against talented, bigger, stronger, and better prepared athletes from the best teams in the world,” Guiao said in a statement.

Guiao took over the Philippines’ crippled team last year, succeeding Chot Reyes, who was among two coaches and 10 players given suspensions for an on-court brawl with Australia in a World Cup qualifier in Manila.

The July 2 melee left the Australian team fearing for their safety and prompted them to seek embassy help to speed up their departure from the Philippines.

Three Australian players were also suspended after the brawl, which also saw spectators storm onto the court.

“It is with a heavy heart that we accept Coach Yeng’s resignation,” Basketball Federation of the Philippines president Al Panlilio said in a separate statement.

“Guiao had the unenviable task of picking up the pieces for Gilas Pilipinas,” he added, praising the coach for securing qualification to the World Cup despite the tall odds.

The Philippine campaign was not helped by President Rodrigo Duterte, who openly disparaged the Gilas’ chances against their much taller European opponents.

“We don’t have a chance in that one. Let us bet on China instead,” Duterte said in a speech to Filipino-Chinese businessmen last month.