We all knew the shortcomings coming into the FIBA World Cup.
What would the US do when going small isn’t the answer? We got an emphatic answer today… they’ll lose.
The US was built on defense and rebounding. Their defense had lapses in the second quarter and late in the fourth quarter. Gobert’s 21 point, 16 rebound performance is arguably the best performance of the tournament.
Rudy Gobert and the French dominated the boards. Not only did France outrebounded the US, they flat out dominated the boards, 44-28. They also limited the US to only nine offensive rebounds.
“They play on the defensive end, they are physical, individually they play well, defensively as a group, switching, weakside, rebounding. They fit together really well,” said US head coach Gregg Popovich.
France also deserves credit for their on-ball defense against Kemba Walker. Andrew Albicy and Frank Ntilikina harassed Walker into a 2-9 shooting performance. Perhaps the most damning part of Walker’s stat-line was four turnovers and zero assists.
The US was without Jayson Tatum. Popovich went to Brook Lopez early hoping his three-point shooting would pull Gobert from the lane. That quickly failed. Lopez would finish 0-2 (both three pointers) in five minutes. Mason Plumlee would play only one minute.
Team USA will have to remake the roster prior to 2020 to deal with France, Serbia, Spain, and Argentina. All four teams will be an issue for the US.
In the meantime, US’ tournament isn’t over. In the consolation game, the US will have to face Serbia. “We got another game tomorrow so it’s not over with, said Marcus Smart. We have to come out and compete.”