On Sunday, France and Serbia squared off in the second round of Eurobasket action. Before the game, France led Eurobasket with 81 points per game, and they unquestionably have the most offensively talented team with Nicolas Batum, Tony Parker, Alexis Ajinca, Boris Diaw, and even Nando de Colo. We didn't get to see this offense in motion most of this game, though, as France lost 77-65. They were simply outhustled.
In my notes for this game, I wrote in huge, bold letters "LAZY". France already qualified for the quarterfinals of Eurobasket, so this game didn't matter too much for them, and they played like they knew that. With the multitude of offensive options France has, they often went for more of the... unconventional choices by having Johan Petro attempt jumpers, Mickael Gelabale shoot turnaround, fade-away threes, and Parker taking pull-up threes. Almost every possession for France through the first three and a half quarters screamed lack of effort, and yet they still remained in the game with some more fantastic play from Ajinca.
Something has to be said for Ajinca's play these past two games. Neither Latvia nor Serbia has All-NBA defensive big men, but he has carried the offensive load for France these past few games. Limited today with foul trouble, Ajinca still looked great on both ends of the floor. Today, he again showcased quite a few post moves and a solid jumper, but the best part of his game has to be his help defense. There are a plethora of Ajinca's blocks posted on Youtube recently, but even when he doesn't block the shot, he definitely increases the difficulty of the shot. He still needs to work on his pick-and-roll defense and defense out of the post, but Ajinca definitely has the talent and physical makeup to be a solid backup big man for any NBA team.
Parker seemed to spend more time joking with the Serbian players and referees more than actually focusing on the game. He finished with 10 points, eight of which came in the second half when he finally started to realize that Nemanja Nedovic and Bogdan Bogdanovic were showing him up. I mean, how do you lose to a guy with the same first and last name? I would say it's concerning that Parker did so poorly against taller guards, but he put so little effort into this game that I don't think we should care about this performance. It's also consoling that when he started to get motivated at the end of the game, Parker used some more off-ball movement and screens to get some separation from the bigger guards.
De Colo was one of the few Frenchmen who tried in this game. It seems like France has a set rotation, and that Nando consistently comes in at around the two minute mark of the first quarter. He doesn't actually have the opportunity to run the point until the third quarter, where he mostly feeds the ball into Batum and Ajinca. In this game, he showed that he is able to interrupt the passing lanes, with two clutch steals at the end of the game, but he still has a tough time finishing at the rim. At the moment, Nando actually has a higher three-point than two-point percentage in the tournament, which accurately depicts his need to work on his shooting in the paint when he's under duress.