France handed Team USA its first loss since 2006 in today’s quarterfinals game of the FIBA World Cup. It kind of came as a surprise, even though a lot of people were expecting USA to lose at some point, they didn’t really expect to get out of the tournament this early. The Frenchmen started the game strong and one of the main reasons for that was Evan Fournier, the fellow from Orlando Magic. He kept on shooting the lights out in the first half and was the first player on the floor to have double-digits. Rudy Gobert also played a huge roll for his team, both offensively and defensively, holding Myles Turner and Mason Plumlee unreliable throughout the game. From what could have been seen in the first half, it looked like France were in control and they actually could make the surprise for the first time in many years.
Coming into the second half, Turner got an early foul and Gregg Popovich decided to play small-ball from that point. In turned out to be a good idea in the short run, as Team USA made a big run and, mainly because of Donovan Mitchell, got past their opponents at the end of the third quarter. Mitchell had 29 points at the end of that quarter and all the signs were showing that USA will handle the business well in crunch time, as their experience and skill-level was above that of the Frenchmen… at least on the paper. It turned out that it wasn’t like that, and Rudy Gobert proved that he can be a deciding factor, ripping apart Popovich’s game plan. Jaylen Brown was defending on him, so given the fact that he is only 2,01m tall compared to the 2,16m height of Gobert, he couldn’t do to much to stop him in the paint, and you can’t blame him for that. The Frenchmen were running the pick-and-roll with ease because of that, and even if Rudy didn’t finish at the basket, he was constantly hacked and sent to the line, where he scored 9 out of 10 attempts.
The kid from New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina, also had some driving bank shots and a huge shot in the 4th quarter, right in the face of Kemba Walker, who, by the way, had only 10 points on 22,2 field-goal-percentage. You would say that the North Americans were expecting a lot more from the Boston Celtics’ guard, as he was the leader of the team, but it turned out to be a very bad game for him, and that costed them the game. Joe Harris could’ve helped his team more by not playing in this game, as he was inexistent in offense, while fouling out in the 4th quarter.
Coming back to the French team, Nando de Colo played a great game, too, helping his teammates with 18 points on 66,7% FG. Evan Fournier, who has a huge merit for the victory, finished the game with 22 points, while Rudy Gobert was the most efficient player on the floor, scoring 36 on efficiency and having 26 on +/-.