BASKETBALL: U.S. swamps Brazil, Australia stomps France and Czechs advance in World Cup

Australian star Patty Mills

None of the crazy possible scenarios came to pass on Monday in the FIBA men’s World Cup in China and a great elimination tournament is about to begin.

The most insane possibility was that the U.S. could be eliminated with a loss to Brazil and a wild result in the Czech-Greece game, but the Americans were easily better, winning 89-73. The U.S. moved on, and even though Greece defeated the Czechs by 84-77, there was a three-way tie for second in the group and the tiebreakers were in favor of the Czechs and they move on to the quarterfinals!

The best game of the day was in Group L, where Australia managed to get past France, 100-98. That places the French against the U.S. in the quarters and Australia in the lower bracket. The quarterfinal match-ups:

10 September: Argentina vs. Serbia
11 September: United States vs. France

10 September: Spain vs. Poland
11 September: Australia vs. Czech Republic

In the U.S.-Brazil game, the American squad built up throughout the game, leading 21-18 at the quarter and 43-39 at half. But the third quarter gave the U.S. a bigger edge, 67-56 and the lead expanded to as much as 19 in the fourth quarter with a final of 89-73.

Myles Turner and Kemba Walker led the U.S. with 16 points each, with Jaylen Brown adding 11. Turner had a team-high eight rebounds. Vitor Benite had 21 for Brazil, but the U.S. defense came to the fore again, as Brazil shot only 43.1%.

Even though Greece defeated the Czech Republic, the Brazil loss meant there was a three-way tie for second in the group at 3-2 (with the U.S. at 5-0). So the tiebreaker measured the results against each of the tied teams (all 1-1), and then it came down to point differential in those games. The Czechs were nine points better than the Greeks. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 12 for Greece, but it was not enough.

The France-Australia game was sensational, with the game tied at 46-46 at half and France ahead, 75-71 after three quarters. But an Aron Baynes hook shot gave the Aussies an 80-79 lead and eventually stretched to 85-80. But the French went on a 9-2 run and got the lead back at 89-87 with 3:11 to go. The game was tied, 94-94 with 1:18 to go and 98-98 with 16 seconds left.

But a free throw by Matthew Dellavedova gave Oz a 99-98 lead, and Patty Mills stole the ball from France’s Andrew Albicy with four seconds left. France had to foul and Mitch Creek made one more foul shots for the 100-98 final.

Mills had 30 points, Joe Ingles had 23 and Baynes had 21 for Australia, while Evan Fournier had 31 and Nando De Colo had 26 for the French. France lost while shooting 56.9% from the field, as Australia shot 57.2%. Wow!