France claim giant scalp in World Cup quarter-final

By James Perry

A story that stirs terrible memories for New Zealand rugby fans has reached USA basketball.

Their stunning 89-79 victory over the NBA laden No 1 ranked side knocked the defending World and Olympic Champions out of the Basketball World Cup in China, ending the USA’s 58 game winning streak in major global tournaments. 

France had NBA players of their own, including Orlando Magic's Evan Fourier (22pts) and Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert (21pts, 16 rebounds) who led France to their second consecutive World Cup semi-finals. 

Game MVP Gobert said after the game "We came here to win gold. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, we lost to Australia. A lot of people counted us out, but we came here and got the win." 

The 10-point defeat means The US will not get a World Cup medal for only the second time since 1982, (2002 was the last time the US left medal-less, the year the Tall Blacks finished 4th). Donovan Mitchell (29pts, 10 rebs) says the loss is tough and came down to them making basic mistakes, "not rebounding the ball, or fouls in certain situations. Even at the end when I threw a back-court pass, things we know that's when you lose your composure. That can't happen."

France are the only team who reached the semi-finals in 2014 to also in the final four this year, they will now face Argentina on Friday night in Beijing.

Argentina have advanced to the semis for the first time since 2006 by beating 2014 runners-up Serbia 97-87. Led by 39-year-old veteran, former NBA player Luis Scola (20pts, 5rebs) the South Americans will now be eying up their first world title since 1950.

2006 World Champions, Spain beat Poland 90-78, booking their place in the final four for the first time since they won the World Cup in 2006. They now take on Australia, after the Boomers beat Czechia 82-70, becoming only the second Oceania side to make the semi-finals, the Tall Blacks becoming the first in 2004.

*The semi-finals, as well as the 3 will be broadcast on Māori TV on Friday night.