The path to the summits is difficult for Les Bleues. Defeated by Serbia (62-68), Tuesday, September 27, in the last game of the World Cup group stage, the players of the French women’s basketball team complicated the task for the rest of the competition. Qualified for the quarter-finals, the teammates of Marine Fauthoux (11 points and 4 assists), almost certain not to be seeded, must wait for the draw for the quarter-finals, on the same day, to know the their opponent. But this is important: unless the Japanese, already eliminated, win against the Australians at home, the Blues will find their way to either the American scarecrow – who has won all international competitions since 2008 – or China. .
The French knew that a win against Serbia would open a much cheaper table for them. In order to prevent teams from calculating their performance in the final group matches, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) introduced a draw for the final rounds, where the first two in each group are guaranteed to win. the other pool. But after their loss against Canada, Les Bleues conceded their second loss (in five games) against their biggest rival on the continent.
“It’s a fight, we have to be calm. When we play against them, that’s what we lack.” The tricolor captain, Sarah Michel, was warned before the meeting. Because the Blues and the Balkan players know each other very well. In 2021, the Serbs won the Euro final, before seeing Sandrine Gruda’s teammates – absent from the World Cup due to injury – win the bronze medal match at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Extensively changed, due to injuries and international retirements, both teams are looking to continue their explanations in this important match of the Australian World Cup. “If you know the France-Serbia rivalry, it was very difficult, hit from the beginning, warned Marine Fauthox. We want to win everything. »
China or the United States are likely in the quarters
But against Serbia coached by Marina Maljkovic, daughter of the 1993 European champion of the bank of Limoges Bozidar Maljkovic, the French were not able to reproduce their performance the previous day on Tuesday, against the Japanese Olympic vice-champions ( 67-53). Led by the leader of the American origin Yvonne Anderson (18 points), the Serbs calmed the enthusiasm of the Blue. Leading throughout the game, but back in contact with Serbia several times, Jean-Aimé Toupane’s players lost their footing at the end of the second and third quarters.
Once again, the Blues were guilty of their constant concern since the start of the competition: rebounds. “We play a game of possession, so if a shot from two you give the opponent a chance to recover the ball, you spend your time defending”, Jean-Aimé Toupane insisted on Monday. With 44 rebounds the Serbs had (including 16 offensive) against just 25 tricolor catches, his troops were largely dominated on Tuesday. And when the game was played in the dying seconds, in an impossible shot from Sasa Cado – until then muted for 3 points – from 9 meters on the board, the Blues left many opportunities on the road to hope for more.
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Deprived of many executives (including Sandrine Gruda, Endy Miyem, Marine Johannes …) for this competition, the colleagues of Gabby Williams nevertheless removed themselves from an extremely difficult group and will compete with quarter-finals of the Australian World Cup. But they risk crossing paths with the Americans, big favorites in the tournament, even without pivot Brittney Griner, still imprisoned in Russia; or China, which has impressed since the start of the competition.