France returned to the Basketball World Cup semifinals and dethroned the reigning champion United States
with an 89-79 victory in their quarterfinal duel on Wednesday in Dongguan, China. The French side, which claimed a bronze medal at the previous World Cup five years ago, will take on Argentina in Friday’s semifinal. Evan Fournier scored 22 points, Rudy Gobert dominated the paint with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks and former EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul tallied 18 points for the winners. Donovan Mitchell paced the Americans with 29 points and Marcus Smart added 11.
The game was tight early and featured eight lead changes in the first quarter alone, which finished with the sides knotted at 18-18. France went ahead by 5 early in the second quarter after three-pointers by De Colo and Zenit St Petersburg guard Andrew Albicy. The Americans reeled off 7 straight points to take a slim edge, but France responded with 9 unanswered points to make it 29-36. The lead reached 8 on a pair of De Colo free throws before a layup by Mitchell drew the United States within 39-45 at the break. Nicolas Batum converted a four-point play early in the third quarter to extend the French advantage to double figures. Threes by Mitchell and Khris Middleton helped the Americans get back in the game. Mitchell remained hot to even the score at 60-60. Smart free throws gave the USA its first lead of the second half, 63-62, and it stood at 66-63 at the end of the third quarter. The Americans kept the momentum and increased the lead to 72-65, however, France came back and tied it on a Frank Ntilikina triple before Fournier pushed his side ahead 76-78. Gobert dunked to extend a 0-11 France run for a 4-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. De Colo sank 7 free throws in the final minute to put the game away.
Australia completed the semifinals field by using a big third quarter to defeat the Czech Republic 82-70 in the last quarterfinals match in Shanghai, China. Australia made the semis for the first time and will square off against Spain for a place in the gold medal match. Two teams traded leads throughout the first half, and Czech Republic's Tomas Satoransky hit a triple midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 41-41. However, Jock Landale of Zalgiris Kaunas had a pair of dunks to spark a 16-2 run, and Chris Goulding nailed three triples as Australia pulled away to a 63-46 late in the third. Martin Peterka and Pavel Pumprla hit shots to keep Czechs' hopes alive, cutting it within 63-55, but Joe Ingles, former EuroLeague champ with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, had a driving layup and a steal that helped Australia keep the margin safe at 71-57. The Czech Republic did get within 77-70 with just over minute to go, but Patty Mills nailed his sixth triple of the game to seal the deal. Mills finished with 24 points, and Goulding netted 14 in victory, while Landale finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds. Patrick Auda scored 21 points, while Satoransky collected 13 points, 13 assists and 9 rebounds in defeat.