FIBA World Cup: France beats Australia, clinches bronze

The French roared back after half-time to win 67-59.

Members of France’s team celebrate with their bronze medals at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Sunday.   -  AP

Gutsy France roared back after half-time to defeat demoralised Australia 67-59 and claim a successive World Cup bronze on Sunday.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists and three rebounds. The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holder — the United States — in the quarterfinals.

It was hard on Australia, which similarly led for long periods in its semifinal against Spain before being hauled back in a double-overtime defeat. But it is still a best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups.

They led 30-21 at half-time in Beijing with the Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles playing a starring role. He was to finish with 17 points. But Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier spearheaded a third-quarter French revival, reducing Australia’s lead to just two points with 1:31 left in the quarter.

In the ascendancy

France, bronze medallist at the previous World Cup, was in the ascendancy and grabbed the lead 47-46 with two free throws by De Colo at the start of the fourth quarter. With two minutes left on the clock, the comeback was nearly in the bag, France leading 60-56, before driving home its advantage. It bossed the fourth quarter 25-13 as Australia’s World Cup fizzled out.

Spain plays Argentina in the World Cup final later on Sunday.