Team USA saw its 58-game winning streak in international tournaments featuring NBA players end Wednesday with an 89-79 loss to France in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup in Dongguan, China, ensuring USA Basketball cannot medal.
Team USA’s last loss with NBA players on its roster came against Greece in the semifinals of the 2006 world championships. The Americans rebounded to win gold at the Beijing Olympics two years later and also won the two Olympic tournaments that followed. They already had qualified for next year’s Summer Games in Tokyo.
The composition of Team USA’s roster at those Olympics remains to be seen. Virtually all of the NBA’s top American stars elected to skip the World Cup, which FIBA moved to an odd year for the first time since the 1960s. Former NBA commissioner David Stern called that move “a mistake.”
“As a result, you are asking players to play in the FIBA world championship, play in the season and then play in the Olympics,” he told the Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears in an interview published Tuesday. “And I think that pushed a lot of players to feel that they should make a choice between back-to-back years of international competition. And that’s it.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points for the United States against France, but all of them came in the first three quarters. In the fourth, Team USA squandered a seven-point lead and went scoreless over six consecutive possessions at one point.
Both teams gave up leads in the second half. France led by 10 early in the third quarter, but the Americans countered with a 31-14 run over the next 10 minutes to take a five-point lead. France then went on a 15-2 run to take a 82-76 lead with just more than two minutes left and closed out the Americans from there.
Evan Fournier scored 22 points and Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 16 rebounds for France, which entered the game 0-9 all-time against Team USA. It will face Argentina in the semifinals Friday. Team USA faces Serbia on Thursday in the fifth- to eighth-place bracket.
“We came here to win gold,” Gobert said, per the Associated Press. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. A lot of people counted us out, but we got the win.”