A total demonstration: the French basketball players, intractable in defense, left only crumbs to Poland (95-54) Friday September 16 in Berlin and are only one step away from the gold medal at the Eurobasket-2022. Nine years after their first and only international title, in 2013, here are Vincent Collet’s men one step away from a second coronation on Sunday (8:30 p.m.). But undoubtedly the highest to the extent of their journey.
They will have to step over Germany or Spain who are fighting for the other place in the final on Friday evening. The result of this half will therefore offer either a shock against a Nationalmannschaft transcended in its capital and superior to the Blues in the group stage (76-63), or a classic of European basketball against the rival Roja, so often assassin of tricolor dreams.
A quickly imposed gap
After two extensions torn thanks to two miracles in the round of 16 against Turkey and in the quarter-final against Italy, this time, the Olympic vice-champions never trembled, led by their interior Guerschon Yabusele, author of his record of points in selection (22).
Poland, clumsy (32% success in total) and muzzled, was already relegated to 16 points at halftime (34-18). No team had conceded so few in half a Euro match since Czechoslovakia in 1946 (12 points against Hungary).
Evan Fournier’s band (10 points) followed in the wake of his three-time best NBA defender (2018, 2019 and 2021), Rudy Gobert (6 points and 6 rebounds), who collected blocks in the second quarter. (3). The gap quickly widened, the executives were even able to rest since only one player spent more than 20 minutes on the floor.
A flawless defense
The weaknesses, in particular the loss of balls (7 in the first round), remain there but “you have to live with”had resigned coach Vincent Collet. “We don’t have all the qualities but in any case, we don’t give up”, he positively. His players have faults but a defense.
A help of fate too. They were expecting Nikola Jokic’s Serbia in the quarter, they had Italy. They expected Luka Doncic’s Slovenia in the half, they got Poland. And the Olympic vice-champions did not miss this “great opportunity”according to Vincent Collet, to go to the final.
It is thus, one does not choose his adversary, and especially not the team of France. When the Blues could have thrown away their last two group matches to avoid a perilous journey on paper, they did not. Fate rewarded them. “We are not playing an unplayable team”recapitulated with modesty Vincent Collet.
“We have never defended like tonight since the start of the tournament, they couldn’t attack. We had a lot of success in the second half.”analyzed on the W9 channel the coach after the meeting.
Third European final
Admittedly, the unexpected Polish guests brought down the Slovenian phenomenon Luka Doncic, defending champion, but this feat marked their first irruption in the last four for 51 years. When French basketball players have only missed it once in five editions since 2011.
This third European Championship final in eleven years (out of four in total) says something about the current reservoir of French basketball, still at the top without being complete. Synonymous with the seventh medal in thirteen years of Vincent Collet’s mandate, this final also says a lot about the Normand’s record.
Neither the routine nor the unglamorous course should minimize the moment. And if it is necessary to underline the circumstances, do not forget the opposites: the two major players and creators who remained at rest, Nicolas Batum and Nando De Colo.