They saw themselves eliminated, and returned home. ” We were hot ! », recognizes Amath M’Baye, relieved. Twelve seconds from the end of the game, the French men’s basketball team was trailing by two points and saw the Turkish Cedi Osman advance on the free throw line for two shots. Before a throw-in for Turkey. “We no longer had the cards in handconfirms coach Vincent Collet. But that’s basketball… anything can happen. »
The laws of sport can be tough. Saturday September 10, they favored the Blues on the wire. The two free throws? Missed. The throw-in? Intercepted. A dunk from pivot Rudy Gobert at… 2.7 seconds from the end of regulation time, to equalize, then controlled overtime in extremis allowed the French to extricate themselves from the Turkish trap, in the round of 16 of Euro 2022 ( 87-86 after extra time).
RUDY GOBERT!!! #EuroBasket x #BringTheNoise 📺 https://t.co/XA74VljBO4 https://t.co/CBTWuYNBt6
“Sometimes miracles happen, and this was a miracle against us. We deserved to win”notes the Turkish coach, Ergin Ataman, annoyed, after “probably the worst defeat of [ses] twenty-six year career. »
Before derailing in the final twelve seconds, the plan of the “turkish wizard” – the qualifier used by his French counterpart the day before – had worked wonderfully, despite a favorable start to the match for the Blues. “You feel like you survived a game you should have lost”recognizes the tricolor captain, Evan Fournier.
Back from hell, his team continues its journey in the competition. But his propensity to produce uneven matches is nothing to reassure, as the fearsome Serbs loom in the quarter-finals – if they beat Italy on Sunday.
Caught in the Turkish “spider’s web”
However, the France team was warned. Having arrived in Berlin, where the final phase of the continental competition is taking place, after coming out of the very tough group B, the French knew that“a new tournament was starting”as Vincent Collet had shot on Friday.
First to enter the final phase of the Euro, at an unusual time (12 p.m.), the Olympic vice-champions of Tokyo knew they had to be on time. Applied in defense, circulating the ball well in attack, Rudy Gobert and his partners did not miss their entry into the scene, quickly digging a first gap.
“Bring the noise”, intimate the kakemonos installed on both sides of the German capital. “Make some noise”, is the slogan of the competition, which the Blues expected to see applied to the letter by the opposing fans, reinforced by the strong Turkish diaspora in Berlin. “They are going to play at home. Every time we came to play in Germany, there were more Turks than Germans.reported Friday the tricolor leader Thomas Heurtel, player of Anadolu Efes Istanbul between 2014 and 2017.
While they too struggled to adapt to the early game schedule, the Turkish fans responded when their team started to catch up in the third quarter. Because the Blues have not managed to maintain their level of play at the start of the game.
“We will have to be clear about their defence, which is quite compact, anticipated Vincent Collet on Friday. They are trying to weave a spider’s web. » By specifying that ” the weak point “ of his squad since the start of the competition – the stray bullets – could precisely stick the Blues in the Turkish trap: “We will have to be careful and patient so as not to waste ammunition. »
“We are still alive”
His troops, however, went straight into the wires stretched by the players of the Bosphorus. “We controlled the game from the start, and we let it slip away in the third quarter, Thomas Heurtel gets annoyed. It is not possible. » Less incisive in attack and defense, the Blues saw Turkey set the sights. “They adjusted, and it took us a few minutes to understand that that’s it, the shots were coming in”recognizes Evan Fournier.
As a whole, the French believe they have put themselves in trouble, seeing the Turks inflict a 19-0 on their return from the locker room, inflamed by the Bugrahan Tuncer match (22 points, therefore 6/10 at three points). Led, and on the verge of breaking after this slump, the Blues managed to hang on. “At least we are tenacious”blows the strong winger Amath M’Baye.
At the end of the game, Rudy Gobert served as a cornerstone for the Blues, swallowing the rebounds and reviving his team. “Rudy is giving us a boss game at the end of the game. As soon as there is a shot, it is he who takes the rebound, even on the shot to equalize, it is his dunk tap that allows us to go into overtime., greets Evan Fournier. With twenty points and seventeen rebounds (a new record for the French team), the future pivot of the Minnesota Timberwolves signed a major performance.
He prefers to highlight his mistakes. “It’s good, but I know I can do much better”estimates the tricolor pivot, “not really happy” of his game. “I missed too many free throws, and I should have finished other plays that would have saved us overtime. » By missing two free throws, at the very end of overtime, he exposed his partners to a Turkish overthrow.
“Now there is no more calculation, you have to win or it ends”, warned Vincent Collet on Friday. Even by the eye of the needle, his team managed to emerge victorious from a “crazy game”as shot by Rudy Gobert, and remains in contention. “We’re alive, we still have games to play, and it’s nice because I didn’t want to go home”, concludes Amath M’Baye. If the gold medal, objective stated at the start of the campaign, remains within reach, the Blues know that they will have to show a completely different face to hope to pass the quarter-finals.