For this final match of the August international window, France are in Sarajevo this Saturday night, to challenge a Bosnian team that is bottom of Group K. On paper, an easy game for Vincent Collet’s men has priori, even if the match lasts on Wednesday, against the Czech Republic, he showed that there was still work…
And this feeling is confirmed at the start of this match: against the Czechs, France goes in slow motion at the start of the first quarter.
Other delay in ignition
Caught by the throat from the start by the defensive aggressiveness of their opponents, the French players stammered their basketball: -11 (13/2) then -16 (22-6) after just over five minutes of play! The defense is leaky, and besides, the Bosnians don’t miss much (12/19), like the site of Jusuf Nurkic, who compiled 9 points and 3 rebounds. Like last Wednesday, the French gave up 28 points in this first quarter, but only scored half of them…
The second quarter, fortunately, was calmer: finally entering the game, the Blues raised the tone in defense and therefore quickly traced the score (33-33). Mainly on the counterattack, thanks to the loss of the ball by the Bosnians (15 in the first half), who completely lost their impulse. After two winning shots from Guerschon Yabusele and Evan Fournier, France took control of the scoreboard and then quietly continued to dig: +8 at half time (46-38).
Frustrating to watch and certainly frustrated on the pitch, and certainly not forgiven for some sometimes surprising refereeing decisions, the French failed to capitalize on the return of the locker room, despite a strong end to the first period.
We find the flaws of the first quarter: a defense connected to alternating current, attack phases too often confused. And so, without really shining, although his renewed defensive aggressiveness should certainly be highlighted, Jusuf Nurkic’s teammates comfortably recovered the score after half an hour (59-51).
Fifty minutes to decide…
But when an inevitable defeat looms at the beginning of the final act, Evan Fournier dons the cloak of savior. The Knicks defense scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone, and so it answers to Jusuf Nurkic, who also seriously increases the power of him late in the game, as it is huge stuck in the snout of Vincent Poirier. After a decisive kill, in the last seconds, by the captain of the tricolor team, the two teams could not decide against each other at the end of regulation time and the match went to extra time (76-76).
The additional five minutes of play are not enough, initially, to designate a winner.
Fatigue sets in on both sides, and the two formations are evenly matched, with neither player managing to take matters into their own hands. France has a chance to win with just over two seconds left, but Rudy Gobert is penalized for an offensive foul, while Evan Fournier was thrown into the circle… A second overtime is imposed (85-85).
This will be fatal for the French, completely dry physically. Vincent Collet’s troops hold on as best they can, but an attempt to equalize behind the arc by Evan Fournier is blocked, before seconds later, in the right corner in front of the bench of the French team, Bosnia, by Aleksander Lazic, I plant the dagger and go to +6. This will be the final gap (96-90).
With this defeat, France is second in Group K, surpassed by Lithuania, and will have to officially seek qualification next November, during the next qualifying window, during which the NBAers will not be present… But more broadly, five days before the start of a Eurobasket that promises to be tough in the group stage for them, the Blues are not particularly reassuring…
Photo credit: fiba.basketball
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