France stunned by Latvia, eliminated from men's hoops World Cup
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France stunned by Latvia, eliminated from men's hoops World Cup

Apr 13, 2024

Latvia shuts down France on the final possession to secure the big-time win. (0:39)

France came to the World Cup planning to win gold. It won't even make the second round, a stunning development for the reigning Olympic silver medalists.

Latvia got 22 points from Arturs Zagars and shocked France 88-86 on Sunday night in a Group H game in Jakarta, Indonesia. The result sent Latvia and Canada through to the second round and meant France, which won the bronze at the past two World Cups, cannot finish better than 17th place this year.

"We let a lot of people down, ourselves first," French forward Nicolas Batum said.

France -- a medal favorite in the eyes of many entering this World Cup and the No. 5-ranked team in the world according to FIBA -- suffered a massive embarrassment for a team that will consider itself a gold-medal favorite when it hosts the Paris Olympics in 11 months.

"When you lose in the semis or quarterfinals, it's different. I mean, at least you compete," Batum said. "We didn't even get past the first round. We have high expectations. I'm ashamed."

France put itself into trouble by falling to Canada 95-65 on Friday in its opening contest. It was the most lopsided loss by France's senior men's team in a major competition, according to FIBA, since 1987.

"It's very hard," said Evan Fournier, who scored 27 points Sunday. "Very tough. Not much to say. We didn't think we would leave the tournament like this. We have to learn from it and come back next year. There isn't anything else to do."

The core of the team -- Batum, Fournier and Rudy Gobert -- all should be in Paris next summer. Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs who skipped the World Cup to prepare for his first NBA season, plans to be on the Olympic team. France is pursuing Joel Embiid, an international free agent of sorts who is also considering playing for the U.S.

Batum, who called Sunday's loss a "reality check," said he knows the team will be roundly criticized in France.

"I'm scared to go home because we let a lot of people down," he said. "The whole country, a lot of people in the country believed in us to do something special, and we didn't do it."

Rolands Smits scored 20 points and Davis Bertans had 15 points as Latvia rallied from a 13-point deficit. It took the lead for the first time with 37.7 seconds left and held on when Sylvain Francisco missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The momentum swung in the middle of the fourth quarter when France playmaker Nando de Colo was ejected after receiving his second unsportsmanlike foul.

Latvia and Canada will play for Group H's top spot Tuesday.

Canada 128, Lebanon 73

RJ Barrett scored 17 points as Canada overpowered Lebanon to continue its perfect start.

Trae Bell-Haynes added 15 points and eight assists for Canada (2-0), which opened with the impressive 95-65 win over France. Canada set a senior men's national team record for points -- it scored 126 against Jordan at the World Cup four years ago -- and set a tournament record with 44 assists.

FIBA began keeping assist records in 1984.

After recording 27 points in his World Cup debut, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 17 minutes. Canada used 11 players and nine reached double figures; the others were Melvin Ejim (13), Kelly Olynyk (12), Zach Edey (12), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12), Kyle Anderson (10) and Dillon Brooks (10).

Canada shot 71% and played without Lu Dort, who was held out with soreness. Former NBA player Omari Spellman led Lebanon with 16 points.

Dominican Republic 87, Italy 82

Karl-Anthony Towns and Andres Feliz each scored 24 points, and the Dominican Republic connected on 16 3-pointers to beat Italy and move to the brink of the second round.

Feliz had seven of those 3s for the Dominican Republic (2-0). Towns finished with 11 rebounds, and Jean Montero had 12 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

"Getting the job done," Towns said. "I think we did a great job and found a way to win. Andres and everybody down the line was amazing. This was a great team win."

A win over Angola on Tuesday would clinch a second-round trip for the Dominican Republic. The team could lose that game and still advance, based on other results.

Italy (1-1) scored the first 12 points of the game but led only 39-38 at the half and lost coach Gianmarco Pozzecco to a second-quarter ejection after he picked up his second technical foul.

The game changed entirely in the third. The Dominican Republic outscored Italy 31-17 in those 10 minutes then held off a rally in the fourth.

Marco Spissu led Italy with 17 points, while Simone Fontecchio scored 13, Giampaolo Ricco had 12 and Achille Polonara added 10.

Italy remains alive in the race for the second round and plays the Philippines to end group play Tuesday. It's a must-win for the Philippines to have any chance.

"It's going to be exciting," Italy's Luigi Datome said. "It's going to be a nice atmosphere, and all the players like to play in a nice atmosphere."

Angola 80, Philippines 70

Gerson Goncalves scored 17 points, Gerson Domingos added 15, and Angola erased an 11-point deficit to beat the Philippines.

Bruno Fernando scored 14 for Angola (1-1), which trailed 28-17 early in the second quarter and then outscored the hosts 56-29 over the next 24 minutes.

Even with the loss, the Philippines (0-2) remains alive for a second-round spot. It must beat Italy on Tuesday and get some help.

Jordan Clarkson had 21 points for the Philippines.

Germany 85, Australia 82

Dennis Schroder scored 30 points and added eight assists for Germany (2-0). The win, combined with Japan's victory over Finland later Sunday, sent Germany to the second round.

Maodo Lo scored 20 for Germany, which trailed by four entering the final quarter but opened it on a 10-0 run.

Australia tied the game twice in the fourth. Both times, Schroder had an immediate answer to reclaim the lead. His basket with 46 seconds left put Germany ahead for good.

Patty Mills, as he did in the first game, led Australia with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Matisse Thybulle had 17 for Australia, which was only 9-for-16 from the foul line.

Germany played without Franz Wagner, who sat with an ankle injury.

Australia faces Japan -- the home team in the group -- Tuesday, with the winner moving to the second round. Germany finishes group play against Finland.

Japan 98, Finland 88

Joshua Hawkinson scored 28 points for Japan (1-1) as it put together an overwhelming fourth quarter to beat Finland (0-2) and eliminate the Finns from knockout-stage contention.

Japan outscored Finland 38-15 in the final 10:03, erasing what was a 13-point deficit. Yuki Kawamura scored 25 for Japan, including a three-point play with 4:35 left that gave the hosts the lead for good. He added a 3-pointer about 40 seconds later, and Japan pulled away.

Lauri Markkanen topped Finland with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

Montenegro 89, Egypt 74

Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and seven rebounds as Montenegro (2-0) had little trouble with Egypt.

Nikola Ivanovic scored 15 for Montenegro, while Kendrick Perry scored 11 and Vladimir Mihailovic and Dino Radoncic finished with 10 apiece.

Ehab Amin led all scorers with 26 points for Egypt (0-2), while Anas Mahmoud and Patrick Gardner each finished with 13.

A major difference was points off turnovers: Montenegro turned Egypt's 22 giveaways into 30 points, while Egypt managed 17 points off Montenegro's 16 turnovers.

Montenegro plays Lithuania on Tuesday -- both teams are going to the second round, but the game will decide who wins the group -- while Egypt will take on Mexico.

Lithuania 96, Mexico 66

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Rokas Jokubaitis added 15 points, and Lithuania (2-0) rolled into the second round.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 14 for the winners, while Donatas Motiejunas and Ignas Brazdeikis each scored 10.

Gabriel Giron scored 13 for Mexico (0-2). Israel Gutierrez, Orlando Mendez and Pako Cruz had 10 apiece.

Canada 128, Lebanon 73Dominican Republic 87, Italy 82Angola 80, Philippines 70Germany 85, Australia 82Japan 98, Finland 88Montenegro 89, Egypt 74Lithuania 96, Mexico 66