The Blues avoided reliving the same nightmare of the third quarter. The victories against Turkey and Italy may have shown the mental resources of the French basketball team – and the cardiac capacities of its supporters – but did not give the best guarantees in defense. Those who made the identity of Vincent Collet’s selection during the 2010 decade. Against Poland, Friday, September 16, in the semi-finals of Eurobasket, Rudy Gobert and his teammates recalled that the main tricolor strength remains his ability to turn off and make doubt his adversary.
— Andrew Albicy (@andrewalbicy) September 16, 2022
The Poles, so flamboyant to take out the Slovenian defending champion in the previous round, have become unrecognizable. France delivered a demonstration, especially in the first period, derailing the surprise of this last four. The fatigue of the quarter-final feat – and a workforce less filled with individual talent – may have helped the tricolor cause. But it was above all the suffocating pressure put on from the start by the Olympic vice-champion that paved the way for the final.
“There were real defensive efforts from the France teamnoted Jacques Monclar, consultant for the BeIN Sports channel and former international, guest on franceinfo. The Poles gave up their arms, they had already used a lot of energy against Slovenia in the quarter-finals and we managed to bend the intentions of their best players from the start.“
Nine points conceded in the first quarter, as much in the second: at the break, the Blues had conceded less than one point per minute, a rarity at this level. We had to go back to 1946 to find the last trace of a team contained within 20 points scored at half-time in a European championship semi-final. The contrast is all the more striking as 48 hours earlier, Poland had scored 58 units in the first twenty minutes against Slovenia!
The last team to have scored fewer than 20 points in the first half of a #EuroBasket semi-final since Poland was Hungary in 1946 against Czechoslovakia with 12 points
—BasketNews (@BasketNews_com) September 16, 2022
The recipe is simple on paper. A first blade formed from Andrew Albicy to harass the opposition playmaker, and the revelation Terry Tarpey to cool the Polish leader Mateusz Ponitka. Finally the walls Rudy Gobert then Moustapha Fall (three counters each) to ensure the backs near the circle, and authors of several exceptional counters to definitively pass the desire to approach the French basket. All seasoned with a constant intensity by each of the five Blues to take turns on the floor. “All the players who entered, without exception, put their butts on the ground“welcomed coach Vincent Collet at a press conference.
“We put a lot of pressure on them, we jumped at them by being very aggressiveanalyzed Evan Fournier. We didn’t want to leave them in confidence and crush them.“Successful operation with only 23% shooting for Poland at rest, just saved by the three baskets from three-pointers from AJ Slaughter.
— #EuroBasket 2022 (@EuroBasket) September 16, 2022
With such an exhausting rear guard, France made it much easier than in the previous two games. If the third quarters had seen Turkey and Italy surge on the Habs, the desire in defense had already begun to wither from the second act. Which they didn’t allow on Friday. “When we are in place like that defensively, we know where we are going, even if we had trouble setting up our attack at the start of the matchrejoiced, perfectionist, Andrew Albicy at the microphone of Canal +. Afterwards we rolled out, but it starts with the defense.” This defense, precisely, has another virtue, offensive that one. “Every time we manage to steal balls, to foil them, we can run and have easy baskets that give us confidence“, assures the leader.
France, sometimes so sluggish with the ball in hand in this competition, finished the match at 62.1% in shooting, and above all 15/26 from a distance, a record in the history of the Euro selection. Against Spain, also very solid defensively, it will probably be another matter. But this benchmark match on the fundamental qualities of this team could hardly have come at a better time.