Saitama (Japan) (AFP)
Mission accomplished for the French basketball players: they certainly lost Tuesday against the Americans, who are seeking a seventh consecutive Olympic coronation at the Tokyo Games, but with a gap of 11 points (93-82) small enough to allow them to go to the quarterfinals final.
After Japan's victory earlier at the expense of Nigeria (102-83), the Bleues had only three options to stay alive in the tournament: beat Team USA to finish second in Group B or lose by less than 15. units to finish among the two best third.
Last possibility, a more severe setback would have weighed them against Australia which plays in the evening against Puerto Rico.
This is ultimately not the case because the French have fulfilled the second condition, on the floor of the Super Arena in Saitama.
The one that coach Valérie Garnier was hoping for, even if a victory would have been resounding against Americans undefeated in international competitions since September 2006.
"It must have surprised a few people to see us so happy at the end, even though we lost. It's true that in the end, every basket was important for both sides. We did it. I thought to myself. that we had to have fun; in front of us we had the best players in the world, "reacted hotly Iliana Rupert on France 4.
Indeed, the Blue can be satisfied with their performance, because they stood up well to the Americans, even if they seemed on the go at the very end of the game.
- Starved -
Thirty-seven minutes earlier, it was starving to death that they entered this match, fighting on every ball and imposing a tough defense on their opponents, except inside where they were generally dominated, notably by A'ja Wilson (22 pts).
So much so that they finished first at the mark at the end of the first quarter (22-19), in the wake of particularly aggressive Endy Miyem (15 pts in total).
Then Team USA, also carried by Breanna Sewart (17 pts, 7 assists, 7 rebounds) took control and never really let go.
But the Blue clung to their wagon and although accusing six lengths of delay at the break (50-44), they came back with the same intentions in the second period and even took the lead at the start of the fourth quarter. thanks to Valériane Vukosavljevic (72-71).
The rest was therefore more difficult, less offensive in spite of the awakening of Sandrine Gruda (12 pts), they could not keep up with the pace imposed by the Americans, but it was their defensive virtues that rewarded them at the image of this interception of Gabby Williams, his sixth of the match (10 pts, 5 rebounds also).
Now, it's a whole different competition that will start from Wednesday and France, frustrated finalist of the Euro a month and a half ago, beaten by Serbia on the last step, can still believe in the obtaining a medal.
She will know in the evening the identity of her opponent in the quarterfinals, probably Spain, Belgium or China.
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