Dongguan (China) (AFP)
The Blues have failed to avoid the United States in the quarterfinals of the World Basketball on Wednesday in Dongguan (13:00 French hours), but now that they are at the foot of the mountain they say to themselves: why not?
After all, these Americans came to China without any of their superstars. No LeBron James, no Steph Curry, no Kawhi Leonard or any of the players in the NBA Finals between Toronto and Golden State. We say that this is perhaps the best opportunity for France to beat the United States for the first time in history.
"The best, I do not know, it's one of them, I do not think it's as important as I hear it at times, not everyone is fully aware of the quality of This American team, which remains the best of the competition, the path to victory is narrow but it exists.This is already a boon that must try to seize, "said the French coach Vincent Collet.
The United States are the only ones to present at the World Cup a team entirely made up of NBA players, two of whom were in the last All Star Game, the leader of Charlotte Kemba Walker and the winger of Milwaukee Khris Middleton, and two more are among the the most promising youngsters, back Donovan Mitchell (Utah) and winger Jayson Tatum (Boston). The whole thing is coached by a legendary coach, Gregg Popovich (San Antonio).
- "Make the perfect match" -
"Even if it's team B or C, as some say, it's still very strong players, NBA holders, + All-Stars + for some, it will be up to us to make the perfect match to beat them ", says Nicolas Batum (Charlotte), one of four NBA Frenchmen with Rudy Gobert (Utah), Evan Fournier (Orlando) and Frank Ntilikina (Knicks).
In recent weeks, two events have given hope to a lot of people: the victory of Australia on the United States in preparation for Melbourne (98-94), the first failure of a team 100% NBA since 2006 , and the near-feat of the Turks, beaten by one point in the first round of the World Cup because of a series of missed shots in the last seconds.
But Collet points out that the Americans, who lack collective experience, "are still gaining strength when important games come." Moreover they remain on two net victories over Greece MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (69-53) and Brazil (89-73). The French, they lost on Monday against Australia (100-98), defeat which is worth them to face the United States instead of the Czech Republic.
- The Argentine gift -
This match obviously excites the imagination of the Blues. "It's a dream, not just to play them, but to beat them - it's the ambition to do something that has never been done," says Rudy Gobert.
To give themselves a chance, the French all agree that they will have to "regain their defensive virtues", forgotten against the "Boomers", not to explode against the athletic qualities incomparable Americans. "If we defend as against Australia, it is not even worth it to go, but if we have the fangs as in the first meetings, there will be match," promises the pivot of Utah.
The grueling schedule of the World Cup has clearly disadvantaged the French, who had to make a long transfer by plane and bus from Nanking south on Tuesday, while the Americans were already practically on the scene for their second tour, in Shenzhen, neighbor of Dongguan . But Batum refuses in advance "to use it as an excuse".
The day also brought excellent news to the Blues, the surprise defeat of Serbia in the quarter-final against Argentina (97-87), which means that France will keep a chance to finish in the first two Europeans of the World Cup and to win a direct ticket for the Tokyo Olympics even if it loses against the United States. He would then finish fifth by starting to beat the Serbs Thursday in a classification match.
© 2019 AFP