Utah Jazz: FIBA World Cup roundup – Donovan Mitchell finishes strong, France & Australia to play for third

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 14: Coach Gregg Popovich of USA speaks to Donovan Mitchell #5 during FIBA World Cup 2019 Games 7-8 match between the United States and Poland at Cadillac Arena on September 14, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 14: Coach Gregg Popovich of USA speaks to Donovan Mitchell #5 during FIBA World Cup 2019 Games 7-8 match between the United States and Poland at Cadillac Arena on September 14, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) /

The FIBA World Cup ended with a seventh-place finish for Donovan Mitchell and Team USA while his pair of Utah Jazz teammates that remain will play for third place on Sunday.

To say that the 2019 FIBA World Cup didn’t go as planned for Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Team USA would be a wild understatement. A team that had its sights set solely on a gold medal ended up with the worst finish ever at a FIBA World Cup/World Championship at seventh place. The previous low was sixth place back in 2002.

For the most part, Donovan Mitchell as an individual played quite well. Some were critical of him not scoring as much as the team needed throughout the tournament, but when the stakes were highest, Mitchell exploded for 29 points against France in a game wherein support from his teammates wasn’t anywhere to be found. It nearly felt like deja vu to his rookie season with the Jazz all over again.

And though Saturday’s contest between Team USA and Poland was merely a consolation of consolations, Mitchell once again showed out and played extremely well. He led Team USA in scoring with 16 points while going 5-of-6 from the field which included an incredible (and quite surprising given his FIBA track record) 4-of-4 from the perimeter. Mitchell also notched a double-double by adding 10 assists.

It was the perfect way to end FIBA play on an individual level with Utah Jazz training camp just on the horizon as Mitchell excelled in all the areas his fans have been hoping to see him improve – efficiency, three-point shooting, distributing and decision making. Despite the overall disappointing result of a seventh-place finish after beating Poland 87-74, ideally Mitchell will end his run with high confidence, having gleaned valuable experience from Coach Pop and the rest of the gang.


By and large, the United States win over Poland was a good bounce-back for the entire team. Despite being without three injured Boston Celtics in Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand, quad/calf) the team still got off to a quick 28-14 start after the first quarter. From there, Poland battled back in the second half, closing the gap to single digits on a handful of occasions, but ultimately the US outscored them 24-19 in the fourth to win by 13.

Joe Harris added 14 points for the Americans while Khris Middleton had 13 and Derrick White, who got the nod as starting point guard alongside Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, ended with 12 points and seven assists.

Meanwhile, as it pertains to other Utah Jazz players, there’s some good and bad news regarding Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert. The good news is that Jazz fans got exactly what they wanted – their two teams will be facing off once again against each other in the final day of FIBA action. The bad news is that it will be in the third place game rather than for the gold medal.

One game removed from knocking off Team USA, France suffered a shocking 80-66 upset to Argentina, a team that boasts no current NBA players on its roster. However, a former NBA player, who apparently has discovered the fountain of youth, absolutely went off. 39-year-old Luis Scola, who enjoyed a 10-year NBA career, was prolific, notching 28 points and 13 rebounds on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from deep, including a pair of back-to-back threes late in the game to clinch it.


He absolutely outplayed Rudy Gobert and was a menace in the post, essentially rendering the Stifle Tower ineffective. Rudy finished with just three points in his 29 minutes of work, though he did grab 11 rebounds. The Argentina victory knocked France into the consolation bronze medal game while Scola’s squad advanced to the championship.

On the other side of the bracket, Joe Ingles and the Boomers found themselves in a dogfight with Spain, who most considered the favorite. But Australia had over-performed all throughout FIBA play and they weren’t about to change that at this point. The Aussies had several chances to win the game and ultimately it turned into a tightly-contested double overtime affair before Spain ultimately outlasted them by a score of 95-88.

Former Jazzman Ricky Rubio was key for the Spaniards with 19 points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and four steals. However, his impressive stat line came in a fashion that is both all-too-familiar and highly irksome to Jazz fans. He shot just 6-of-19 from the field including an appalling mark of 1-of-8 from deep while turning the ball over four times.

The real story for Spain was Marc Gasol who absolutely feasted on the opposing Aussies by notching 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. The defending NBA champion as a member of the Toronto Raptors looks bound and determined to add a FIBA gold medal to his trophy case as well, and he’ll do so if Spain can prevail over a grizzled and savvy Argentina team on Sunday.


It wasn’t the most memorable game for Ingles whose inability to find his shot proved absolutely costly for the Australians. He finished the game with just four points on 1-of-9 shooting which included blanking from the three-point line on six attempts. He was still impactful with 10 rebounds and seven assists, but it definitely was a game that Joe would like to take back considering its intensity and what was at stake.

Patty Mills was yet again the most prolific player for the Boomers as he notched 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting. However, he missed some free throws late in regulation that could have very well tilted the game in Australia’s favor.

Several of the Australian faithful left the game feeling quite disgruntled with the officiating as a blatant Ricky Rubio flop and a questionable foul on Andrew Bogut that likely should have been called on Marc Gasol proved ever so fatal. Such is the way of basketball, unfortunately, as referees can’t be expected to get everything right, but it’s still disappointing to see such glaring mistakes made in a game of such consequence.

But what’s done is done and the final day of the 2019 FIBA World Cup is set. Donovan Mitchell and Team USA have already wrapped up with a seventh-place finish and are headed back home to the States. Meanwhile, Gobert and France will rematch Joe Ingles and Australia for third place on Sunday at 2:00 AM MT while Scola and Argentina will take on former Jazzman Rubio and Spain for the gold medal a few hours later at 6:00 AM MT.

Utah Jazz have three players among the NBA’s top 30 per SI. dark. Next

All three of Mitchell, Gobert and Ingles have shown great things throughout their FIBA play, and we can only hope that the positives can be applied towards what should be a riveting 2019-20 Utah Jazz campaign. Training camp gets underway in a matter of weeks.