The Utah Jazz are still being well represented during international play as Team USA (featuring Walker Kessler) is headed to the FIBA World Cup semifinal to play against Germany, while Canada (featuring Kelly Olynyk) will play on the other side of the bracket against Serbia.

As the World Cup competition heats up toward a grand finale (to be played Sunday), I thought it might be a good idea to catch everyone up on the biggest headlines, and this first one involves a former Jazzman.

France’s ‘fiasco’

First, some context. The French national team was expected to make a lot of noise during the World Cup, and potentially contend to win the whole thing. The French are the reigning Olympic silver medalists and despite having an automatic berth in the 2024 Olympics because they are the host country, they wanted to prove that they are not to be underestimated.

Despite the NBA presence of Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum, France was embarrassed and failed to make it to the second round after losses in the group stage.

Newly minted Hall of Famer Tony Parker, who is a bit of a legend when it comes to basketball in France, went on a radio show after the national team was sent packing from World Cup contention and he didn’t hold any punches.

He called the loss in the first round “disappointing,” “a shame,” and a “fiasco,” before turning toward what the French national team will need to do to improve in the future.

“They are going to have big choices to make,” Parker said. “If you bring back big players like Joel Embiid and Victor (Wembanyama), it has to be complementary with the rest, because it could mean the departure of certain cornerstones, which can make headlines. We have to improve the team, we need changes, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Parker didn’t use Gobert’s name here, but it is pretty clear that the “cornerstone” he is talking about is the Minnesota Timberwolves center.

Luka Doncic ejected in quarterfinal bout

A Slovenia vs. Canada quarterfinal matchup had all the makings for a prime-time game, with Canada looking like it might be the team to beat and All-Star Luka Doncic leading the way for Slovenia.

While Canada continued its success, eventually winning 100-89, it came after Doncic was ejected after receiving two technical fouls for complaining to the officials, the second one midway through the fourth quarter.

Though Canada was already leading the way, Doncic will be left wondering if he could have made up the 11-point difference had he been on the floor for the entirety of the game.

Team USA’s path

The United States was hit with a bit of a reality check when it lost to Lithuania in the group stage. The knock to the Team USA ego does have a silver lining though.

It was the first U.S. loss of the summer and it could be just what was needed to propel the U.S. team forward. It could be what motivated the Americans to such an easy, 100-63 win over Italy in the quarterfinal on Tuesday. And, that loss to Lithuania also put the U.S. on the other side of the bracket from Canada, which could end up being the best thing for it.

Now, if Team USA is going to meet Canada, it’ll be in a North American battle in the final.

Up next

If you’re looking to watch the semifinal matchups, you’ll need to either live in a country where you can purchase the World Cup Pass, or have access to ESPN subscription platforms, and even then, it’s not particularly well-timed for this time zone.

You’ll either need to be a night owl or an early riser to watch the semifinal action on Friday. Canada takes on Serbia at 2:45 a.m. MDT before Team USA faces Germany at 6:40 a.m.

The final will be played on Sunday at 6:40 a.m.

Slovenia’s Luka Doncic heads off the court after receiving his second technical foul during the second half of a Basketball World Cup quarterfinal game against Canada in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. | Michael Conroy, Associated Press