The Americans face France Wednesday in the quarterfinals, without the stars of the NBA. But they are still favorites.
From the draw of the competition, the France team was warned. Unless finishing first in their group stage, the Blues could face a pitfall in the quarter-finals. For two small points, the gap of their defeat, Monday, September 9, against Australia (98-100), the French took second place. And see the Americans on their way, Wednesday, September 11th.
Cradle of the orange ball, double holders of the world trophy and having"An extraordinary pool, incomparable with other countries"According to French captain Nicolas Batum, the USA are the favorites of all the competitions they are starting. "They are the best in the world," agreed French coach Vincent Collet after Monday's meeting, urging his players to "Do not bend your head to bounce back very quickly".
"They are players against whom I play all year, they can bring back the twelve best, we will never be afraid of them", launched the pivot Rudy Gobert before the competition
"The story will be even more beautiful", tweeted at the end of the meeting Rudy Gobert. Best defender of the NBA (the US championship) last season with Utah Jazz, the French pivot is not one of the kind, the top of its 2.16 m, to bend the spine in advance. "I will never be afraid of a teamhe was hammering before the competition. They are players against whom I play all year, they can bring back the twelve best, we will never be afraid of them. " In this case, for this World Cup, "Team USA" had to do without its best elements. The team led by coach Gregg Popovich arrived in China depopulated by his NBA stars: Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis … the list of packages inflated over the summer.
The time when cohorts of "All-Stars" came to knock the world out at major international competitions seems far away. To the point, that at the beginning of the World Cup, a recurring interrogation has arisen in the American press: it is the weakest squad ever sent to a World Cup by the United States since the NBA lets its players participate ?