It's a mantra they repeat tirelessly. "Importance of defense". At the time of facing Australia, Monday, September 9 in Nanjing (14 hours, French time), in the "Final" of the group stage of the World Cup basketball, the team of France will not fail to sing again his refrain emphasizing the defensive aspect.
In the previous match, against Lithuania, if they were carried by the thrusts and size of the musketeers Evan Fournier and Nando De Colo in attack, the Blues won the match thanks to their slaughter of the other next to the parquet floor. "We're doing on small details, and on our defense", did not fail to insist Rudy Gobert at the end of the match, qualification for the quarterfinals in pocket.
In the French team, defense is a trademark. "Except in 2017"Vincent Collet. On the sidelines of the preparation of the Blues at the World Cup, the French coach confided World. After Euro 2017, and a pitiful elimination by Germany in the knockout stages, the record was easy to draw: his Blues had sinned in defense.
"When we do not defend together, we leave as much space to the opponent, we barely allow any performance at the highest level worldwide.. This is true in all team sports: today, a team that does not prevent opponents from being good has no chance of succeeding. "
"Put a lot of input intensity"
For two years, the French coach has been trying to reconnect with the DNA of his team. And embarked his group. "They have the keys! assures the former captain of the Blues, Jim Bilba. We have athletes that all nations envy us, so if the team is motivated to stand in defense and be aggressive on the passing lines, there are not many countries capable of holding this level of competition. intensity for forty minutes. "
The French start to the World Cup seems to agree with the silver medalist Sidney Games (2000). "In my opinion, France is the most talented team (from the World Cup) in defense matters »said Henrik Rödl, the German coach after seeing the Blues put his team under the extinguisher from the start of the game, and deprive of any point during the first seven minutes (and twenty-two seconds).
This praise is to be relativized in view of the low level displayed by Germany, eliminated in the first phase of the group. But the defense is "The main satisfaction of the first round", according to Captain Nicolas Batum. And begin footing to the floor is the strategy of the French.
"You put a lot of emphasis on putting a lot of input intensity, confirmed Rudy Gobert in The Team. We try to make sure that the opposing team is quickly weakened on the psychological level, that she feels that nothing will be easy during the whole evening … "
No way for the Blues to gauge the opponent time for a round of observation. They carry the first shots, and aim for the knockout. "In addition, putting a lot of pressure in defense allows us to quickly give easy baskets on the other side of the field."continues the French control tower.
A control tower named Gobert
Because among the French, the best attack is the defense. "That's what we're trying to put in place, insisted Nando De Colo after the victory against Lithuania. All our game system starts with an aggressive defense, to find rhythm in attack. And once you have the pace, many of our players are able to do great things on the field. "
It is a big difference from the previous Euro. In 2017, the Blues were deprived of their pivot Rudy Gobert. The return of the double winner of the trophy of best defender NBA in the group is noticed. "You have a guy who is 2.20 m (2,16 m, actually) in the racket, who likes to defend, who against and who takes rebounds, is racing Evan Fournier. Of course it changes a team! "
"It's the wall of France", enthused the truculent George Eddy at the microphone of Canal + Sport during a meeting of the World Cup. On the other hand, in rebounding, or in intimidation, Gobert is doing a job in the racket, and considerably hinders his opponents.
If his presence is a reassuring lighthouse for his partners, who know he is watching for the grain, for the opponents, it is more of the pitfall. "When he's in the racket, it bothers them clearly, prolongs Fournier in Basketball Europe. Many times they have shots, and just seeing Rudy, it disturbs them and they make a pass or miss their shots. "
Australia, an XXL test
The preparation of the Blues just started, the back of the Magic highlighted the importance for his friend "That he can remove the ball from the hoop" in international basketball. Because in the NBA, players are not allowed to touch a ball when it is above the circle.
Premonitory remarks, because in the breathtaking end of the match against Lithuania, the pivot of the Jazz flew away and cleared a critical free throw. And did well, his gesture, imperfect because touching the circle, should have been sanctioned, admitted the FIBA in a statement.
"My goal is to have the most impact defensively possible, assures Rudy Gobert. And to make my teammates and the team better, while making things as difficult as possible for the opposing team. "
Exhorting before the World Cup its pivot, "Without a doubt one of the best defenders in the world", to train the team in his wake, Vincent Collet now sees him as the "Guardian of the temple" of the French defense.
Assured to play in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the French Gobert tackle Monday to a tough opponent. Unbeaten, like the Blues, Australians have a cohort of snipers capable of igniting at any time – from Patty Mills to Joe Ingles. "On paper, it's the best team in the world after the United States", warned Collet before the World Cup.
Since then, the Boomers have dropped, in preparation, the American favorites. It will be an XXL test for the French defense, which knows the stakes: the winner of the group (and therefore the match) will avoid a quarterfinal perilous against the United States and will switch to a more favorable part of the table. The Blues are warned, word to the defense.
France – Australia, Monday at 2 pm (French time) on Canal + Sport and Le Monde. fr