"The mountain is coming," Vincent Collet had warned. After a first plain in Shenzhen, the French basketball team attacked the mountain stages of the Chinese World Cup. And against Lithuania, Saturday, September 7, the Blues sometimes ran out of air and grazed the precipice. But the teammates of an Evan Fournier inspired attack (24 points) are awarded in extremis a capital victory (78-75). Eliminating the Baltics, the Blues qualify for the quarter-finals and play Monday the first place in the group to Australia.
As since the beginning of the World Cup, the Blues have made a banging start. In the wake of an efficient Evan Fournier, the French quickly took a ten point lead. Facing them, the Baltic players struggled to find the target, greatly hampered by the slaughter of Rudy Gobert inside. For his direct opponents, stamped NBA, Valanciunas and Sabonis, his wings of giants prevented them from scoring.
After Fournier, and while Nicolas Batum was in the oven and mill, Nando De Colo is in turn out of his box. Lethal in attack, the sixth luxury man of the Blues punished the Baltics, and electrified the crowd, after a technical foul. With eleven points lead at the end of the third quarter, and a game licked, the Blues followed the instructions of their coach to the letter.
But the last quarter time saw them reconnect with some of their failings. Multiplying the bad choices, when their opponents regained their address, the French spent six and a half minutes without registering any basket. And the Lithuanians took the opportunity, even taking advantage five minutes from time.
But if the Blues bent, they did not break. Thanks to an intractable defense, a bit of luck – two shots bouncing off the rollbar, then leaping into the circle, and a limit clearance of Gobert above the basket not whistled – the French come out in extremis, and continue their Chinese adventures.
Next step, Monday against the formidable Australians, unbeaten like them. The winner of this crucial match will avoid confronting the American favorites in the quarterfinals. "It's a new final to play," blew Nando De Colo. After this first mountain pass crossed, the Blues now enter the stages out of category.