In attack as in defense, the French pivot, from the height of its 2.16 m, dominated the quarter-final of the World Cup won Wednesday by the France team against the United States.
In basketball, Americans are not accustomed to seeing the best player evolve on the other side. However, a few days after muzzling Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA North American league player, the team headed by Gregg Popovich fell on Wednesday (September 11th) against a rival of another caliber. At 2.16m, Rudy Gobert made the American team suffer, contributing greatly to the Blues' success in the quarter-finals of the World Cup against the reigning world champions (89-79).
"Rudy is another joker in the locker room and that's really decisive"had joked Evan Fournier at the start of preparation for the World Cup. Absent the Euro 2017, completed on a knockout in the round of 16 against Germany, the French pivot was sorely missed. "Seriously, we're talking about a guy 2.16 m in the racket, who likes to defend, takes rebounds and againstexplained the back of the Blues. It changes a team. "
This changes especially as Rudy Gobert, according to his partners, had approached the match on Wednesday, very motivated – not to say reassembled – by the words of the pivot opponent Myles Turner, who had evoked a "Best defender of the year … for some" speaking of the Frenchman A small sentence that referred to the fact that, although Rudy Gobert has been named the best defender of the past two NBA seasons, his influence on his team's game is not always recognized.
"A very important piece"
"Rudy is a very important piece of the game," says former Blues captain Boris Diaw. No need to be a connoisseur of the orange ball to spot the athletic dimension and deterrence that the French giant can bring in a defense. "But it's also become a point of attack fixation", adds Boris Diaw.
"We made it difficult for them, and we punished them in attack", savored Rudy Gobert
"Cornerstone of our defensive base, it now has more opportunity to help us in attack. We feel that it has matured, assured Vincent Collet before the World Cup. The French coach was able to implement his plan. Systematically looking for the Americans, Rudy Gobert caused innumerable fouls and broke his record points in the blue jersey (21, as well as 16 rebounds and 3 blocks). "We made it difficult for them, and we punished them in attack," savored the person concerned.
With the slaughter of their centerpiece, the Blues have been dominating under the panels. Having solved their concern at the rebound, a point on which they had been defective until then (44 balloons recovered against 28 for the Americans), they were able to release the horses in attack.
At the edge of the last minute, while the Blues led by four points (82-78), Donovan Mitchell, spearhead of the American attack, tried to bring his own two points. Choosing to take on Gobert, his club mate in Utah, the American seemed to be picking up his gigantic opponent. But deploying all its scale, this one countered, in extremis, the attempt.
One way to close the lid on the part. And a brilliant response from Rudy Gobert, who, two days ago, had missed an identical action against the Australians, also losing some of his nerves against the provocations of Joe Ingles, another partner at Utah Jazz.
"It's up to me to take my responsibilities"
"I know that in the future we will win titles. It will be up to me to take my responsibilities ", anticipated the French pivot two years ago, in our columns. Aware that the Blues should reinvent themselves to fill the gap left by the retirement of Tony Parker after the Olympic Games in Rio, he raised the glove. On Wednesday, he took his team on his broad shoulders to make a kid's dream come true: to unbolt the unbeatable Americans.
With his teammates – starting with Evan Fournier – he had been bending his weapons for some time, considering "A small window during which we could be able to beat them". Seeing it ajar this year, he rushed the troops before the match: "I told them we might never have the same opportunity to do it again. We knew how big it would be for the history of French basketball. "
Focused on the next step, he keeps his eyes locked on the common goal: the world title. To prevent the victory against the Americans remains short-lived, two pages are yet to be written. This is what he had already recalled through a message on Twitter, from the locker room where the Blues digested painfully the Australian defeat: "The story will be even more beautiful. "