Shenyang (China) (AFP)
The French basketball players went up a notch by beating Italy 82 to 80, in their penultimate game preparation for the World Cup, Sunday in Shenyang, thanks to a sparkling performance of Evan Fournier (28 points).
The Blues will play their final friendly on Tuesday against Serbia before flying to Shenzhen (south), at the other end of China, where they will start their World Cup by a shock to win absolutely against Germany next Saturday .
Vincent Collet may line up against the Serbs, the main outsider for the title behind the Americans, the twelve players he intends to put on the final list (to give 48 hours before the World Cup at the latest). Unless he still needs to see the men in balance.
Facing the Italians, the young Theo Maledon, lacking rhythm after a shoulder injury, failed to make his entry, losing three shots in quick succession. His competitor at the position of third leader Élie Okobo was not convincing either (2 points).
- A record Fournier -
Although he has so far claimed the opposite, it is not excluded that the coach leaves with two leaders, Andrew Albicy and Frank Ntilikina (rest Sunday), counting on Nando De Colo (12 points) or even Paul Lacombe, to provide some relay. Unless the latter, almost not used against Italy, is the last off the list, because Louis Labeyrie has made an energetic start to the game inside.
Opposed for the first time to a serious candidate for places of honor after defeating notably Brazil and Argentina during the first part of the campaign in France, the Blues have shown beautiful things, even if their inconstancy has failed their cost the victory. Rudy Gobert did a big job inside: 13 points, several counters and a constantly dissuasive defensive presence.
The man of the match was Evan Fournier. Discreet in the first period, he took things in hand offensively returning from the locker room, both at three points than attacking the circle. Balance: 28 points, his record in France team.
Nicolas Batum was also excellent in the role of handyman (10 points), essential defense.
Against the Serbs, the French will pass their biggest test. With his NBA players, Nikola Jokic and Bogdan Bogdanovic in particular, the team of Sacha Djordjevic is promised to the podium in Beijing on September 15, despite the absence of his leader Milos Teodosic, injured.
© 2019 AFP