Basketball: France recover late to beat Australia 67-59 for bronze medal at World Cup
BEIJING (AP) – France defeated Australia 67-59 on Sunday (Sept 15) to take the third-place play-off in the World Cup – their second-straight bronze medal and matching their best finish.
Australia, who led for most of the game, failed again to win any medal in a major international basketball tournament. The Boomers are 0-4 in Olympic bronze-medal games, and now 0-1 in the World Cup – previously known as the World Championship.
Nando de Colo scored 19 to lead France with 16 from Evan Fournier. Joe Ingles had 17 for Australia with 15 from Patty Mills. Utah Jazz centre Ruby Gobert, who scored 21 against the United States in France’s shock quarter-final victory, had only two points.
Australia led for the entire game until France inched ahead 47-46 on two free throws with 9:01 left in the game. France continued to surge with Australia looking exhausted – much like their loss in the semi-finals to Spain.
France’s poor shooting and Australia’s defence meant a low-scoring first half, which Australia led 30-21. France shot only 25 per cent from the floor, with many missed from inside.
Australia built a 40-25 lead to open the third quarter. But then France finally awakened, and cut the lead to 46-42 after three quarters with de Colo, Fournier and Vincent Poirier carrying the scoring load heading into the deciding final quarter.
Spain take on Argentina in the final in Beijing later on Sunday night, when one of the teams will win their second world title.
Australia will have to agonise over another chance for their first World Cup or Olympic medal slipping away.
They lost 89-88 to Spain in the third-play-off at Rio 2016, 89-71 to Lithuania at the 2000 Sydney Games, 80-74 to Lithuania in Atlanta in 1996 and 78-49 to the US in Seoul in 1988.
France took silver in the 1948 and 2000 Olympics and were was also the bronze medallists in the last World Championship (now World Cup) in 2014 and finished fourth in 1954.
This was only the third meeting between Australia and France in a major event.
Before Sunday, the teams split two match-ups – both at the Olympics. Australia beat France 87-66 in the group stage in 2016, and France prevailed over the hosts 76-52 in the semi-finals in 2000.
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