France battle back to deny Australia World Cup bronze

France’s players celebrate their victory over Australia after the game. (AFP pic)

BEIJING: 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 holders the United States in the quarter-finals.

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semi-final 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 quarter-finals 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.

France, bronze medallists at the previous World Cup, were 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 their advantage.

They bossed the fourth quarter 25-13 as Australia’s World Cup fizzled out.

Spain play Argentina in the World Cup final later Sunday.