Gregg Popovich (left), head coach of the United States, gives instructions during the quarter-final match between the United States and France at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, Sept 11, 2019. (DENG HUA / XINHUA)
SHANGHAI - Rather than a highly-anticipated semifinal clash at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, title favorites the United States and Serbia will face each other in their head-to-head in 5th-8th place classifications.
The defending champions followed in Serbia's footsteps to bow out of contention for the highest glory after losing to France 89-79 in Wednesday's quarterfinal.
In a later match, Australia staved off the Czech Republic 82-70, setting up a semifinal encounter with Spain.
The USA saw a glimpse of hope to turn the tide at 82-78 down, but Donovan Mitchell's driving layup was blocked by his Utah Jazz teammate Gobert
It was the first loss for the world basketball powerhouse at the tournament since the 2006 World semifinals, including the Olympic Games during that span.
Seeing many star players withdraw from the pre-tournament training camp, the US finally fell to victim to a defeat at a major international tournament.
A 17-4 spurt in the last period proved decisive to France's win. Evan Fournier led France's scoring sheet with 22 points. Rudy Gobert, also playing in NBA, posted 21 points and 16 rebounds. France outrebounded USA 44-28.
In a topsy-turvy matchup featuring 12 lead changes and 12 tied scores, team USA built momentum on its three-point lead into the last quarter to move up at 72-65, its largest lead throughout the match.
However, then French came back from a timeout to strongly respond with a 17-4 run thereafter and made the duel beyond USA's striking distance through Nando De Colo's solid performance on free throw line. De Colo had 18 points. Frank Ntilikina added 11.
France's semifinal opponents will be Argentina, who shocked Serbia 97-87 on Tuesday.
The USA saw a glimpse of hope to turn the tide at 82-78 down, but Donovan Mitchell's driving layup was blocked by his Utah Jazz teammate Gobert.
Mitchell's game-leading 29 points turned out in vain for the reigning champions. Teammates Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
Players of the United States prepare to enter the court before the quarter-final match between the United States and France at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, Sept 11, 2019. (XUE YUBIN / XINHUA)
Australia rode on a 30-18 third quarter for a 15-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
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Then the Czech Republic trimmed its deficit through a 7-0 run, but Australia timely snapped and slid towards its first semifinal appearance at the World Cup.
Patty Mills registered a game-high 24 points on 6 of 9 three-pointers. Andrew Bogut helped with 10 points.
Tomas Satoransky was one rebound shy of World Cup's first-ever triple-double, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds and 13 assists for the Czech Republic. Patrik Auda scored 21 points.
Czech Republic's defeat means that World Cup semifinalists France and Spain from Europe secure direct entry into the 2020 Olympic Games.
Donovan Mitchell (left) of the United States competes during the quarter-final match between the United States and France at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, Sept 11, 2019. (XUE YUBIN / XINHUA)
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