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James Harden wants to be unforgettable as he eyes multiple NBA championships and looks forward to joining forces with new Houston Rockets team-mate Russell Westbrook.

Harden has been one of the best players in the NBA since he joined the Rockets, averaging 29 or more points per game in each of the last four seasons.

The Rockets star was also named MVP in 2017-18, though seven-time All-Star Harden is yet to win a championship.

"I still haven't accomplished half of what I want to accomplish," Harden told Bleacher Report. "Like, multiple championships.

"I want to be one of those basketball players that you won't forget. And obviously, we all remember the Kobes [Kobe Bryant] and the Jordans [Michael Jordan] and the D-Wades [Dwyane Wade] and all those guys.

"I want to be in that same conversation, obviously, in championships and all that good stuff, and best shooting guards to ever play the game."

Harden's hopes of winning a title have been boosted by the arrival of Westbrook, who he played alongside during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets retooled their roster this offseason when they sent Chris Paul, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder in exchange for All-Star and former MVP Westbrook.

The deal reunited Westbrook and Harden, who previously played together in Oklahoma City from 2009-12. 

"[There will be] a lot of ups and downs," Harden added. "But I'm more excited to go into war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog. Somebody that's a killer, for real."

Harden believes the Rockets – who reached the Western Conference semi-finals last season – have a chance to compete for a title, especially with the addition of Westbrook. 

"Of course it [not having a championship] matters to me," Harden said. "I've been thinking about it maybe the last year-and-a-half, two years. I'm on the right path. You can't rush winning a title. Some win it early, some win it late. It's perfect timing.

"The time is going to happen when the time happens. I've just got to be patient, continue to work my butt off, continue to be a great leader, great team-mate, and just try to bring as much talent and as much guys that have that same drive that I have. I think we all have it right now."

Ricky Rubio played a starring role as Spain regained the FIBA World Cup by defeating Argentina 95-75 in the final in Beijing on Sunday.

Phoenix Suns guard Rubio was named MVP after he combined 20 points with seven rebounds and three assists to lead Spain to the title for the first time since 2006.

Sergio Llull added 15 off the bench for Sergio Scariolo's side, while NBA champion Marc Gasol had 14 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.

Spain's success owed a lot to a stoic defensive display, with Argentina forward Luis Scola kept scoreless in the first half of the showpiece.

Scola and Facundo Campazzo combined for three-of-21 shooting from the field, with Gabriel Deck's haul of 24 points insufficient to inspire Argentina to a late comeback.

Spain started the first quarter with a 14-2 run and then began the second half by going 12-2 to open up a comfortable advantage they never looked like surrendering.

France took third place for the second successive World Cup after coming from 15 points down in the second half to defeat Australia 67-59.

Gregg Popovich defended Team USA and hit out at a "ridiculous" lack of respect for other nations at the FIBA World Cup after the reigning champions ended their campaign with an 87-74 victory over Poland.

A significantly weakened US squad - missing a host of star names but still packed with NBA experience - saw their title defence ended by France at the quarter-final stage earlier this week, before also losing to Serbia.

That meant Saturday's triumph at Beijing's Wukesong Sport Arena, in which Donovan Mitchell starred with 16 points and 10 assists, was only enough to secure seventh place for the country that won gold at each of the last two World Cups.

Popovich nevertheless said he was proud of his players' efforts as he firmly rejected some of the criticism that has come the USA's way.

"Some people want to play the blame game, there's no blame to be placed anywhere," the veteran head coach was quoted as saying by ESPN. "They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn't win a gold medal?

"That's a ridiculous attitude. It's immature, it's arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn't respect all the other teams in the world and doesn't respect that these guys did the best they could.

"Their effort was fantastic. You give people credit for what they did, and that's it. But it's not a blame and shame game, that's ridiculous."

Mitchell was one of five players to put up a double-figure points tally in the USA's final game, along with Joe Harris (14), Khris Middleton (13), Derrick White (12) and Harrison Barnes (10). Middleton also contributed six rebounds and half a dozen assists.

Poland, playing their first World Cup since 1967, were paced by Mateusz Ponitka (18 points), Adam Waczynski (17) and A.J. Slaughter (15).

The outcome was decided early with Team USA scoring the game's first 10 points and stretching their lead to 14 by the end of the first quarter.

They led 47-30 at half-time, aided by Poland's inability to hit from three-point range. The underdogs missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with a minute and 28 seconds to play before the interval.

Poland did rally in the second half, getting as close as seven points with four minutes and seven seconds left in the third quarter, but the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and ran out comfortable winners.

Serbia secured fifth spot with a 90-81 victory over Czech Republic later in the day, Bogdan Bogdanovic the star of the show with 31 points.

Gregg Popovich defended Team USA and hit out at a "ridiculous" lack of respect for other nations at the FIBA World Cup after the reigning champions ended their campaign with an 87-74 victory over Poland.

A significantly weakened US squad - missing a host of star names but still packed with NBA experience - saw their title defence ended by France at the quarter-final stage earlier this week, before also losing to Serbia.

That meant Saturday's triumph at Beijing's Wukesong Sport Arena, in which Donovan Mitchell starred with 16 points and 10 assists, was only enough to secure seventh place for the country that won gold at each of the last two World Cups.

Popovich nevertheless said he was proud of his players' efforts as he firmly rejected some of the criticism that has come the USA's way.

"Some people want to play the blame game, there's no blame to be placed anywhere," the veteran head coach was quoted as saying by ESPN. "They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn't win a gold medal?

"That's a ridiculous attitude. It's immature, it's arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn't respect all the other teams in the world and doesn't respect that these guys did the best they could.

"Their effort was fantastic. You give people credit for what they did, and that's it. But it's not a blame and shame game, that's ridiculous."

Mitchell was one of five players to put up a double-figure points tally in the USA's final game, along with Joe Harris (14), Khris Middleton (13), Derrick White (12) and Harrison Barnes (10). Middleton also contributed six rebounds and half a dozen assists.

Poland, playing their first World Cup since 1967, were paced by Mateusz Ponitka (18 points), Adam Waczynski (17) and A.J. Slaughter (15).

The outcome was decided early with Team USA scoring the game's first 10 points and stretching their lead to 14 by the end of the first quarter.

They led 47-30 at half-time, aided by Poland's inability to hit from three-point range. The underdogs missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with a minute and 28 seconds to play before the interval.

Poland did rally in the second half, getting as close as seven points with four minutes and seven seconds left in the third quarter, but the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and ran out comfortable winners.

Argentina, looking to win their first FIBA World Cup since the inaugural edition in 1950, will contest the final on Sunday against a Spain side that needed double overtime to progress from the last four. 

Spain advanced to the title game with a pulsating 95-88 victory over Australia, erasing a double-digit deficit in regulation to hand the stunned Boomers their first loss of the tournament.

Marc Gasol fuelled Spain's win in the first World Cup elimination game to go to double overtime by scoring 33 points with six rebounds and four assists. Ricky Rubio added 19 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds as Spain outlasted a Patty Mills-inspired Australia.

Mills poured in 32 points and Nic Kay came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 11 rebounds for the Boomers.

Gasol, who won an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors in June, has a chance become only the second person to add a World Cup crown to an NBA championship in the same year.

Lamar Odom did the double in 2010 with United States and the Los Angeles Lakers. After the Lakers bested the Boston Celtics in seven games that year, Odom stood atop the podium three months later in Istanbul with his USA team-mates hoisting the Naismith Trophy.

"I just cherish every moment for what it is. I don't try to double up. I want to give the maximum for every occasion. It is two completely different situations. I'm going to give my best to win a World Cup for Spain," Gasol told FIBA basketball.

Argentina, having stunned Serbia in the quarter-finals, continued their incredible run in China with an 80-66 victory against France in Friday's other semi-final, with seemingly ageless Luis Scola, 39, and Facundo Campazzo leading the way. Argentina last played in the final in 2002, coming up short against Yugoslavia.

"They were just the better team tonight," France's Rudy Gobert said. "From the first to the last minute, they were more aggressive and played more as a team... It was complete domination."

Spain have a chance to join the United States, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and Brazil as only the fifth country to win multiple FIBA World Cup trophies.

Another week, another news cycle dominated by Antonio Brown.

But while all of that was going on, several big injuries hit both major sports in full swing.

And also, disappointment at FIBA World Cup for defending champions the United States.

All of that and more on this week in US Sports.

 

1. Brown dominates headlines

The Antonio Brown drama just will not stop. As of last Thursday, the wide receiver was fighting with his team the Oakland Raiders, his general manager and social media. Now, one week later, he has been released, signed with the New England Patriots and has had a civil suit filed against him alleging he raped and sexually assaulted his former trainer.

It has been a long week for Brown, and he is in a similar spot to where he was a week ago — waiting to see what will happen come on Sunday.

Will the NFL or Patriots suspend Brown? Well, the Patriots can suspend him, the NFL would likely only put him on the commissioner's exempt list, but either way, he is once again in wait and see mode as are all NFL fans.

The Patriots play the lowly Miami Dolphins on Sunday though, so his return at least is not pressing for New England.

2. NFL injuries pile up

With the first week of the NFL season there is football, but there is also disappointment and most of said disappointment comes by way of injury. There were plenty of huge injuries in the first game for many teams.

In Jacksonville, Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles suffered a shoulder injury and is out for a good amount of time. In Washington, Redskins running back Derrius Guice suffered a meniscus injury and will likely be out for more than a month. In Kansas City, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill also hurt his shoulder and could miss four or more games, and in Los Angeles, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry once again will be down for a while as he suffered a bad knee injury.

Now teams will have to adjust to these injuries and figure out what to do moving forward. But we encourage you to check out Foles' replacement in Jacksonville. Rookie Gardner Minshew was good in relief of Foles and he was named the best senior quarterback in college last season. We think he could fill in more than admirably.

 

3. USA eliminated in FIBA World Cup

The United States crashed out of the FIBA World Cup after they lost to France in the quarter-finals and were eliminated completely in their next game when they fell to Serbia.

This was a team that were always going to have a tough time winning the tournament despite being the favourites to win it as All-Stars like James Harden, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis all pulled out of the event.

In the end, this USA team will be known for who did not play than for their end result.

"I can only say, you can't help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn't show up," USA basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told reporters. "I'm a firm believer that you deal with the cards you're dealt. All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand you feel reasonably confident that you're going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court.

"No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had."

4. MLB sets new single-season home run record

The ball has been flying out of MLB ballparks at an alarming rate this season, and as of Wednesday, it has flown out more than ever before in a single year.

With Baltimore Orioles utilityman Jonathan Villar's three-run homer in a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB teams had combined to hit 6,106 home runs this season which broke the 2017 mark of 6,105 home runs.

MLB teams are now on pace to hit 6,806 home runs, passing the previous mark by 700.

5. Likely National League MVP out for the year

The National League's best player and reigning MVP Christian Yelich is done for the year.

Yelich broke his knee cap when he fouled a ball off his leg during the Milwaukee Brewers' clash with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. Fortunately, he will not have to have surgery, but with the Brewers tied with the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot in the NL, this is a devastating blow for Milwaukee.

Yelich finished the season first in the NL in OPS (1.100), tied for second in home runs (44), tied for second in batting average (.329), 10th in RBIs (97), tied for third in stolen bases (30) and first in on-base percentage (.429).

He was the undisputed leader in the NL MVP race and is now out for the season.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez dreams of seeing the club's basketball team playing in the NBA.

Madrid are one of the dominant forces in European basketball, winning a record 10 EuroLeague titles. Their most recent success was in the 2017-2018 season, while they were losing semi-finalists earlier this year.

They have also won the Spanish league four years out of the last five, with Perez suggesting Madrid's players deserve to test themselves against the best by joining the Eastern Conference.

"In basketball we play many insignificant games," Perez said. "It's better to play less, but better.

"We have explored the option of a European League and I have the dream of seeing Madrid in the NBA.

"I have asked us to be included in the Eastern Conference, but they say that's far away."

Perez suggested an alternative option could be to include Real Madrid in a new European Conference that would be part of the NBA.

"The other teams in Spain don't have as much interest," Perez added.

"But there are Greek and Turkish clubs with which we could have a European Conference.

"There are only two teams in the NBA with more followers than us on social networks."

Seventh place is the best struggling Team USA can hope for in the FIBA World Cup after they were beaten 94-89 by Serbia on Thursday.

After winning 58 consecutive international games, the Americans have been brought back down to earth in China.

Team USA will play in the seventh-place game against either Poland or Czech Republic on Saturday after suffering back-to-back losses with NBA players in the side for the first time since 2002.

Even a win at the weekend would represent Team USA's lowest placing in a major tournament since NBA players were allowed to participate in 1992.

An early Myles Turner jumper gave the USA a 2-0 lead, but that was the only advantage the Americans had the entire game - and it lasted all of 22 seconds.

The USA appeared to suffer a hangover from Wednesday's loss to France as Serbia jumped out to a 32-7 lead after the first quarter. However, Gregg Popovich's side responded in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 44-40 at half-time.

Serbia kept the Americans at arm’s length in the second half to advance to the fifth-place game against the winner of Poland versus Czech Republic.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 28 points, while Vladimir Lucic finished with 15.

Harrison Barnes paced the Americans with 22 points and Kemba Walker had one of his better games of the tournament, with 18 points and eight assists.

Patty Mills starred as Australia beat Czech Republic 82-70 in Shanghai to reach the FIBA World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The Boomers sealed a sixth consecutive victory in the tournament to make history at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on Wednesday.

Australia took charge in the third quarter, outscoring the Czechs by 30 points to 18 to seize control and went on to set up a last-four showdown with Spain in Beijing on Friday.

Mills, Chris Goulding and Andrew Bogut played key roles for Andrej Lemanis' side, scoring 48 points between them to ensure a brilliant performance from Tomas Satoransky was in vain.

Satoransky sunk 13 points, laid on 12 assists and claimed nine rebounds, while Patrik Auda racked up 21 points in defeat for the Czechs.

Point guard Mills shot nine of 15 from the field as he bagged a game-high 24 points, grabbing four rebounds and providing six assists in an influential display.

Goulding and Bogut – on court for just over 12 minutes – finished with 14 and 10 points respectively.

Rudy Gobert starred as France ended the United States' title bid with a 89-79 shock victory in the FIBA World Cup quarter-finals.

Defending champions USA lost their first game in the tournament since 2006 as their star-studded line-up failed to deliver and France advanced to the last four.

Gobert was the main man for France, with the Utah Jazz center netting 21 points and amassing 16 rebounds, along with two assists, while making a superb block with just under a minute to play.

France spoiled an impressive performance from Donovan Mitchell, Gobert's NBA team-mate, who led Team USA with 29 points.

Only two other Americans scored in double figures as Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker finished with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Both teams had similar shooting numbers, but France dominated on the boards and won the rebound battle 44-28, while also shooting 17 more free throws.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained his approach to working with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season.

Vogel will lead the Lakers in the upcoming NBA season after Luke Walton left Los Angeles, where it has been six successive campaigns without playoff basketball.

The Lakers have boosted their postseason and championship chances by luring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with superstar James.

Vogel knows he is facing big expectations entering his first season and in a Q&A with NBA.com, the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach said: "Talent-wise, they're the two best players I'll ever have had the opportunity to coach. 

"That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we're able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you're managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what's happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I'm looking forward to how that all is going to play out."

Vogel replaces Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons and just one with James.

Walton and James built a 20-14 record before the 15-time All-Star missed five weeks due to injury.

Vogel acknowledged some of the concerns that coaches have when it comes to leading James, but said he is not relying on the three-time NBA champion's past relationships with coaches to determine how the two will bond on the court.

"I only know how he's been with me. That's the only measuring stick I'm going to use," Vogel said. "I'm not going to look at how it's been with his past coaches. That really doesn't concern me. I want to shape my own opinion of him as a person and one of the greatest ever. I'm going to take my approach and work together with him to hopefully do something special."

As for Davis? Vogel explained that it will be important to determine whether the six-time All-Star plays forward or center.

"To me, he's effective in both positions. But I don't think it's wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full time," Vogel added. "Does that mean he's never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he's going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way."

Vogel said despite the high expectations, he is prepared for whatever this season may bring.

"We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it's all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit," Vogel said. "I'm sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they'll have to learn each other quickly.

"Then we'll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you're gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball."

Kevin Durant said he hates the "circus" surrounding the NBA as he opened up on his respective exits from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors.

Durant ended a three-season stint with the Warriors at the end of the last campaign, switching to the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent on a four-year deal.

The 30-year-old, a 10-time All-Star, joined Golden State from the Thunder, where he spent nine campaigns – including one as a rookie at the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise's move to Oklahoma – going on to win the championship with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

However, Durant believes the media speculation and fan furore around the NBA made his decision to leave the Warriors more acrimonious than it needed to be.

"It didn't feel as great as it could have been," Durant told the Wall Street Journal. "Some days I hate the circus of the NBA. Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game.

"Sometimes I don't like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.

"We talk about mental health a lot... we only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans."

Durant believes a similar uproar surrounded his move to the Warriors in 2016, claiming he does not trust the Thunder's hierarchy. 

"I'll never be attached to that city again because of that," Durant said of Oklahoma City.

"I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organisation, but I don't trust nobody there. 

"The organisation, the [general manager], I ain't talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.

"People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for-sale signs around my neighbourhood. People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names."

Durant also explained that he left Golden State because he could not relate to many of his team-mates.

"As time went on, I started to realise I'm just different from the rest of the guys," Durant said. 

"It's not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it's like nobody could [fully accept] me there."

Argentina ended Serbia's hopes of glory at the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday, while Spain progressed to the last four at the expense of Poland.

Facundo Campazzo starred for Argentina in their 97-87 victory in the opening quarter-final, scoring 18 points, providing 12 assists and also grabbing six rebounds.

As for 2006 champions Spain, they prevailed 90-78 against Poland in a notable outing for Ricky Rubio.

Wednesday sees the other two last-eight games, with the United States taking on France before Australia meet the Czech Republic.

 

SCOLA STARS AS SERBIA FALL SHORT

Led by Luis Scola's 20 points, Argentina put paid to Serbia's hopes of going one better than their runner-up finish in 2014. Instead, the much-fancied European nation will not even leave China with a medal.

Two-time champions Serbia trailed for much of the contest but fought hard to hold the lead early in the fourth quarter - only for their opponents to hit back in impressive fashion.

Nicolas Laprovittola and Scola both converted from the foul line after scoring on two-point plays, making the score 87-76 with a little over three minutes remaining.

Bogdan Bogdanovic (21 points) cut the gap down to 91-85 with a three-pointer, only for Campazzo to respond with a successful jump shot at the other end. The reliable Scola then hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds, allowing Argentina's fans inside the venue to start the celebrations early.

 

RUBIO REACHES RECORD

Spain shut down Poland dangerman Mateusz Ponitka - who was held to just two points in the opening half - as they eased into the final four.

Rubio had 19 points but his playmaking skills were the major story in Spain's triumph. The point guard moved past Pablo Prigioni's tally of 106 on the all-time assist list for the competition, the record-breaking moment coming when he found Juancho Hernangomez for a three-pointer in the second quarter.

A.J. Slaughter scored 19 for plucky Poland, who had surprised many in making it to the knockout rounds after qualifying ahead of Russia and Venezuela from Group I.

The United States beat Brazil 89-73 on Monday to book a quarter-final meeting with France at the FIBA World Cup, as well as qualifying for the Olympics.

The defending champions are now 5-0 in China, having boasted far too much firepower for Brazil, who crashed out with defeat.

Brazil's elimination means Team USA and Argentina are both through to the 2020 Olympic Games as they will finish the World Cup as the two top FIBA Americas teams.

Monday's victory secured USA top spot in Group K, though they only had a narrow half-time lead - 43-39 - behind 10 points apiece from Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker and Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner.

But USA opened up on offense following the restart, with Celtics guard Marcus Smart hitting a late three-pointer to give the side a 67-56 lead through three quarters.

They stretched their lead further late on, as Walker and Turner each ended on 16 points.

A tougher test is expected against France, however, with NBA stars Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier primed to take on the 2014 winners.

The quarter-final draw for the FIBA World Cup was completed on Monday with the United States to face France in perhaps the pick of the games.

Team USA defeated Brazil to send their opponents crashing out, with Czech Republic instead advancing having held Greece to only a narrow victory earlier in the day.

Australia edged France in Group L to avoid a last-eight meeting with defending champions USA, who will instead face the second-placed side.

Lithuania bowed out with a victory in the same pool, beating Dominican Republic 74-55.

In the classification round, Montenegro, New Zealand, Jordan and Germany achieved wins against Japan, Turkey, Senegal and Canada respectively.

New Zealand and Germany each finished top of their groups.
 

PAIN FOR GREECE AND GIANNIS

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo could not lead Greece to World Cup glory as he fouled out for the second time in the tournament in their 84-77 win over Czech Republic.

Only a 12-point margin of victory would have been enough to keep Greece's hopes of progression alive but they could not hold on after leading 65-53 in the fourth quarter.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis' brother and Milwaukee Bucks team-mate, said: "Our first objective was to win, and then to win by 12. We paid for the game against Brazil in the first round.

"But this is basketball. Sometimes you are on top, sometimes you're on the other side."
 

USA DENY BRAZIL PROGRESSION

Czech Republic still had to wait on the final result of the day, where they needed USA to beat Brazil in order to join the American side in the next stage.

Their progression was sealed, dumping Brazil out, as Kemba Walker and Myles Turner starred with 16 points apiece in the United States' 89-73 success.

Walker also supplied five assists and Turner eight rebounds, despite the latter playing just 20 minutes and 41 seconds for Gregg Popovich's side in Shenzhen.
 

BOOMERS SCORE BIG TO BEAT FRANCE

It is Australia who will play Czech Republic next after booking a place on the opposite side of the draw to USA by handing France a narrow defeat.

A final scoreline of 100-98 represented the first time France have ever given up a century of points in a World Cup game, with Evan Fournier's 31 not enough to rescue a result.

This was the first match at the tournament with two players scoring at least 30 points, while Australia became the first to have three on 20 or more, as Patty Mills managed exactly 30, with Joe Ingles on 23 and Aron Baynes – who converted five of his six three-point attempts - on 21.

Team-mate Jock Landale said of Baynes: "He's huge. That's what he does for us. He's a stretched five, who shoots the ball really well. He is going to keep doing it for us and we are going to keep letting him shoot."

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