Team USA stunned by France at the FIBA World Cup, fails to medal for first time since 2002

The U.S. men’s national basketball team will not medal in a major international competition for the first time since the 2002 FIBA World Championship, when an embarrassing performance inevitably led to a complete revamping of the program.

Led by NBA players Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, France snapped Team USA’s streak of 58 straight victories in non-exhibition games internationally, defeating the Americans 89-79 Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup in China.

The U.S. had no answer for Gobert, the All-NBA center for the Utah Jazz who amassed 21 points and 16 rebounds while commanding the paint. Fournier added 21 points and seemingly ended every Team USA run with a clutch perimeter shot.

The U.S. will face fellow upset victim Serbia in Thursday’s fifth-place consolation game. France advances to play Argentina in the semifinals on Friday. Spain awaits the winner of Wednesday’s Australia-Czech Republic game in the other semifinal.

Related: NBA stars at USA Basketball men’s national team practice

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NBA stars at USA Basketball men’s national team practice
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Victor Oladipo #55 and Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States talk during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: DeMar DeRozan #35 of the United States is interviewed after a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States attends a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Paul George #39 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Russell Westbrook #24 and Blake Griffin #40 of the United States talk during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Paul George #39 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States watches a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: James Harden #47 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kevin Love (L) #58 talks with Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Devin Booker #31 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kevin Durant #52 of the United States is interviewed during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: (L-R) Victor Oladipo #55, Kyrie Irving #37 and Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States joke around during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kyrie Irving #37 and Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States joke around during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the United States works with DeMar DeRozan #35 during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Blake Griffin #40 of the United States smiles during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Gobert’s Jazz teammate, Donovan Mitchell, was spectacular for Team USA, posting game highs of 29 points (on 12-of-23 shooting) and four assists, with six rebounds. His teammates shot a combined 40 percent from the field. Trailing for much of the game, the U.S. rode Mitchell to a second-half comeback, even taking a 74-67 lead in the final eight minutes. But France answered with a 15-2 run that all but ended Team USA’s hopes of advancing after five straight victories to open the tournament.

Team USA inexplicably stopped feeding Mitchell in the fourth quarter, instead handing the closing reigns to All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who was in the midst of his worst game of the tournament. Walker finished 2-for-9 from the field. His Celtics teammate, Marcus Smart, also missed four crucial free throws down the stretch. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum missed the game with an ankle injury.

Tatum’s absence is no excuse for the loss, nor is the exodus of superstar talent. The Americans were abused in the pick and roll by French ball-handlers Fournier and Nando De Colo (18 points), along with Gobert, and their ill-preparedness for that scenario — both by roster-building and execution — cost them a medal.

This is was not an unforeseen upset or an embarrassment on par with 2002 or 2004, as several rival countries are filled with NBA talent. It is still a disappointment. American superstars will likely return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it will be interesting to see if this becomes a World Cup trend or whether USA Basketball again responds to its first major tournament loss since the 2004 Athens Olympics.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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