Les Bleus kept their medal hopes alive with a solid win (82-74) over a Lithuania team who now likely faces a tough quarter-finals clash with European top-dog Spain.
Team France got off to a fast start on red-hot shooting from the usual suspects, Parker, Batum and Gelabale, and quickly ran up a ten-point lead half-way through the first quarter. Then... they visibly went into "cruise" mode. Lithuania, who never cruise, went on playing a tough and skilled (if not brilliant) basketball... and clawed their way back. The lead switched hands again and again, with Lithuania taking a four-point lead to the locker-room at half-time.
Coach Vincent Collet must have found the right words, because Les Bleus came back with a whole different attitude. They all ratcheted up their defense several notches. Boris disconnected the auto-pilot and started playing serious basketball. Tony started hitting threes for the first time in London. And Nico took to the air for a dunks 'n blocks extravaganza...
Team France steadily built their lead to 16 early in the fourth quarter, before beginning to stretch the clock, letting Lithuania sneak back under the ten-point line.
While I'm not too pleased with the way the team went on vacation in the first half, they were exactly what theyshould be in the second half.
Tony scored 27, with drives, pull-ups, and threes. He fixed the Lithuanian defense, giving play-space to his teammates. Very few mistakes.
Boris scored ten, dished seven, and grabbed five boards. Every time he got the ball at the high post, you could see the Lithuanians thinking "Oh s***, what's he gonna do this time??"
Nico had a bunch of blocks, but more than the number, there was their quality: he was so high that he spiked the ball straight down, like a volleyball smash. When he dunked on a fast break, he didn't seem to jump at all... just sort of... lengthened his stride a bit... and WHAM!!
And the supporting cast... supported. Nando and Mike and Ronny and Kevin...
Edit: Flo Pietrus only played a minute and a half. His nose attacked a Lithuanian elbow. Broken. Flo will play the next game. Tough man, our Flo...
Yesterday, the women defeated Canada. Awful game... but a victory...