France eliminate US from World Cup in major upset

Updated 11 September 2019

France eliminate US from World Cup in major upset

DONGGUAN, China : France blew the Basketball World Cup wide open Wednesday by handing the US their first loss in the competition in 13 years in their quarterfinal clash, powered by a double-double from big man Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. The historic 89-79 win for France eliminates the Americans early from the competition in China, dashing their hopes of a third straight title.

The prospect of an American exit had looked increasingly possible after the US sent a squad of second-tier stars and the loss is likely to prompt soul-searching in US basketball.

Gobert, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, had three blocks, including a key rejection down the stretch to help France seal the victory in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

The 7-foot-1 center called the win “unbelievable.” 

“I’ve been dreaming about this for a while. I was thinking we might never get the opportunity (to beat the USA) again and I told that to the guys,” Gobert said.

“It doesn’t mean much if you don’t win the gold, but it will go down as one of the biggest wins of my career and one of the biggest wins for French basketball for sure.”

In a hint of the sniping that may result in the US over the debacle, shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, who led the Americans with 29 points, hit back at critics of the team.

“You guys are going to go on and say who we didn’t have but why don’t you all focus on who we do have?” he told reporters.

“We have 12 guys that want to compete for America, just like every other country. It s**ks that some of our country people don’t feel that way about us, but we don’t care. We wanted to compete and we did.”

France will play Argentina on Friday, who made it to the final four by defeating Serbia.

The USA loss sets up an enticing consolation match with Serbia on Thursday. Packed with NBA players, the two were tournament favorites and will be trying to salvage pride.

In Shanghai, San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills was in sparkling form once more for Australia as they reached the semifinals for the first time on Wednesday.

The Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals in 11 previous appearances, defeated tournament debutants the Czech Republic 82-70 and will meet Spain on Friday.

This was undefeated Australia’s sixth win in a row in China and in doing so they avoided becoming the latest surprise casualty at this unpredictable World Cup.


Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

Updated 18 January 2020

Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

LONDON: Mohamed Salah says Liverpool’s focus is solely on ending a 30-year wait to win the Premier League title, rather than doing so by going the whole season unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have dropped just 2 points in 21 games to set a new record for Europe’s top five leagues of 61 points from a possible 63 to start the campaign.

That has propelled the European champions into a 14-point lead over title holders Manchester City with a game in hand, but Salah insists the Reds are still taking their title challenge one game at a time ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.

“We don’t think about being unbeaten until the end of the season. If we do that, it would be great, but at the end of the day we just want to win the Premier League. That’s the most important thing,” Salah told Premier League Productions.

“Unbeaten or not, it’s not necessary — we want to win the Premier League.”

Liverpool could move a massive 30 points clear of United with victory on Sunday, but the Red Devils are the only side to take points off them this season after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Salah missed that match through injury and is keen to make up for lost time in the clash between English football’s two most successful sides.

“We need to win, we need to carry on in our way — the way we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season and since last year,” added the Egyptian.

“Of course we know it’s big for the fans, for the city and for us. But at the end of the day, we play the game to win.”