The French team was aiming for gold at the Eurobasket, but ultimately had to settle for the silver medal after their defeat against Spain. Necessarily disappointed, Vincent Collet did not go overboard when designating what cost his family success. It’s hard not to go in his direction.
In the end, there was never really a match between Spain and the Blues, during this final of the European championships. La Roja took the lead after just a few minutes (23-14 after the first quarter), unfolding their game against Evan Fournier & co. who had a hard time keeping up. The Tricolores even counted up to 21 points behind… if the addition was slightly less salty in the end (88-76), it was too much to hope for a miracle.
Unsurprisingly, it was a rather annoyed Vincent Collet who appeared at a press conference after the match. Whether Thomas Heurtel created controversy by attacking the referees, the French coach adopted a very different tone when discussing the causes of this disappointing setback. As he explained in detail, it was the turnovers (19) committed by the Blues which led to their loss, a recurring problem during the competition:
Ball losses, Achilles heel of the Blues
We knew that our weakness was lost balls since the start of the tournament. They scored 35 points on our loose balls and we 7 on theirs. What can we add, that tells you everything about this match. Our problem during this tournament ended up killing us. We survived against Turkey and Italy, when we could have already died, but against Spain as they don’t lose the ball, they control, sometimes take bad shots, but don’t lose the ball.
We shot 75% in the key and 2-pointers and 40% at 3-pointers. We can’t do better. But the rest is enough to kill us. They executed very well. We had a system to counter them, but we couldn’t execute it once. It works, but we didn’t run it. The problem is why we lose them, there are our fundamental weaknesses, in the pass and in the markdown. There is also their aggressiveness. We also lack mobility in certain situations.
As a reminder, France finished “at the top” of the ranking in terms of lost balls per match, with no less than 15.8 on average. It’s too much, far too much to believe in the final victory, especially against Sergio Scariolo’s men who systematically punished them. Collet also praised the discipline of his evening opponents, accepting without flinching that La Roja had simply been the best team on the floor from the kick-off.
We knew they would be very aggressive on Evan and Thomas Heurtel, and there was a plug in the middle of the racket. In fairness, we learned a lesson. We did not know how to compensate for these 19 loss of balls by a strong aggressiveness on the other side. Every time we got closer, we made a mistake, two mistakes and we took the same punishment. We played with our values, we fought until the end, the guys wanted it, there is not 1% to reproach the players in this area. But a final against Spain, you don’t win it just with that.
Vincent Collet does not hide it, the loss of ball weighed down the Blues throughout the competition and all the more in the final against Spain. France did not manage to correct this ugly defeat, and this is what partly cost them the gold medal.
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