France challenges the giant United States with the recent memory of their triumph in the quarterfinals of the China-2019 World Cup, on Sunday (12h00 GMT) at the Saitama Arena as both teams enter the competition in the men’s Olympic basketball tournament.
On September 11, 2019 in Dongguan, the French team broke a historical barrier by beating the giant of the basket in official competition for the first time (89-79) after nine defeats.
The American formation of two years ago did not come close to the ‘Dream Teams’ that tackled Games and some World Cups since 1992, but it did have several figures from the league – such as Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum-. France ended its 14-year winning streak and 58 official matches.
– Gobert made the difference –
And two years later? The French team, with its usual cast of NBA players and European basketball figures, is a candidate for a medal, while ‘Team USA’, led by Kevin Durant and with a higher level squad, is the big favorite for gold.
In the Bleus they will send their captain Nico Batum, Evan Fournier -author of 22 points in that historic victory-, Nando Di Colo, Frank Ntilikina, Thomas Heurtel, back after injury, and especially Rudy Gobert, one of the best centers in the league. NBA.
In his clash two years ago against his usual rivals in North America he was ultra dominating, with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks.
In Saitama, on Sunday he will have another opportunity to show himself before an American team that does not have too many tall men.
The roof of the team is the repechage JaVale McGee, 2.13 and 33 years old, without prominence in the league and who came in to replace the injured Kevin Love.
He is accompanied as interiors by the powerful Bam Adebayo (2.06), the experienced and versatile Draymond Green (2.03) and Jerami Grant (2.03).
Gobert, a 2.16 rook, is seconded by Moustapha Fall (also 2.16) and Vincent Poirier (2.13).
“We are clearly looking for the gold medal. We have a group that can beat anyone in a game, although we must improve during the competition,” warned an ambitious Gobert.
France and the United States share Group A with the Czech Republic and Iran. The first two of each of the three keys and the best two third parties will be in the quarters.
– Will the NBA finalists be there? –
The American team, which landed in Tokyo after a short preparation marked by losses and setbacks, has the doubts of the NBA finalists (Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday of the Bucks champions, Devin Booker of the Suns) who join on Saturday To the group.
“The Americans have an individual quality that remains unmatched, but if we want to push them to the limit we need collective precision at all times. If the game is reduced to one against one, we will have few options,” analyzed French coach Vincent Collet.
“We will have to take them to situations of numerical superiority, as we did in 2019. That game will serve them, you can be surprised once, twice it is more difficult,” he added.
Neither team will face the debut with overflowing confidence. The United States was defeated in preparation by Nigeria and Australia – with subsequent triumphs against Argentina and Spain – while France comes after falling twice with Spain and against Japan, the 31st nation in the world ranking.
pm / psr