"A team full of vice, mischief and who has the experience of these appointments. " Here is a brief summary by Vincent Collet, the coach of the French basketball team, the nature of the obstacle that stands before the Blues, Friday, September 13 in the semifinals of the World Cup in Beijing. Two days after sinking the American battleship, and achieved one of the greatest exploits of French basketball, they attack Argentina (14 hours, French time).
For the second semifinal in their history, the French basketball players want to avoid repeating the precedent of 2014, where, released from having too celebrated their surprise victory in the quarterfinals on the Spanish favorites at home, they had sunk in front of Serbia. Because their opponent is a regular of the world's highest.
"It's been one of the best nations for almost twenty years", assures Vincent Collet in an interview at Basket Mag. Argentina has not missed an international competition since the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. And the country can boast of having changed international basketball forever. First team to beat the United States at a World Cup where NBA players were present, in 2002, the South American selection has given the cover two years later on the biggest stage: the Olympics.
Before taking gold in Athens, against Italy, the Argentines had won the semi-final on a nonchalant American selection, causing a deep question in the country where basketball was born. At four seconds from the end of the match, Luis Scola's dunk crushed the Americans and sent Argentina to Olympus.
Record number of matches played in World Cup
Fifteen years have passed since, and the Argentine interior is still there. Last survivor of the "Golden generation", and now captain of Albiceleste, Luis Scola contributed greatly to the victory of his side in the quarterfinals on Wednesday against Serbia, favorite second in the competition (97-87).
"Scola is a leader, and perhaps one of the greatest basketball legends", greeted the Serbian coach, Sasha Djordjevic. At the end of this competition, the indefatigable 39-year-old will hold the record for the number of matches played in the World Cup, tied with Ubiratan Pereira Maciel of Brazil.
Luis sigue escribiendo historia … https://t.co/OTjgTpUxiT
If its historic mop has known scissors, and grisonne, the Argentine interior does not feel old. "I do not go back on the ground thinking, '' Oh my god, I'm older than all those guys ''he says. For me it's natural. I just think I'm a player and I'm going to do good things to help my team win ".
A link between the generations, the former Houston Rockets player, one of the flagship franchises of the NBA in the United States (among others), is also one of the reasons that push the team to excel in the world.
"In the first game, we realized that he might never play basketball again after this tournament (…) and that if we do not qualify for the Olympics, we will feel guilty " tells Luca Vildoza, one of the young shoots of the team. Once qualified, relieved, we began to murmur between ourselves "Make Luis play again a year ". He is impeccable, and we rely heavily on him. "
The goal of the Blues: slow the pace
With Argentina, the France team will face a training that loves to play unbridled. Both in the movement of the ball and the movements of the players, it unrolls a basketball fluidity bordering on perfection, carried by twirling backs (Facundo Campazzo and Nicolas Laprovittola).
If none of them evolve in the NBA, Argentine players know each other on the fingertips, and share a love of the jersey, illustrated by their tears after their victory in the quarter.
"Their game is to try to put the madness", summarizes Vincent Collet, fearing that the Argentineans will find the euphoria having seen them record arrows arrows against the Serbs. "We know we're not tall, or athletic (like the Blues)so we have to play with a lot of intelligence, unveils its Argentine counterpart, Sergio Hernandez. Create spaces, never stop passing the ball, and respect the tactics. "
For the Blues, beaten at this game of "Run and gun" by the Australians in the last group match (defeat 98-100), it will slow down the game against a team having exceeded 90 points four times (in six games) at this World Cup. And try to curb the leader Wisp Campazzo, launching ramp attacks Albiceleste.
" (Wednesday)we found the key to beat Team USA. Tomorrow, it will be necessary to find the one to beat Argentina, and to accept the idea that it is not the same, explained Vincent Collet to his players. It's not just putting intensity, aggression, it's also having the intelligence to bypass their defensive system. "
Like the Blues, after their victory against the Americans, the Argentines assure not to be surprised to have overcome the Serbs. "It's far from a miracle, we are a good basketball team, we played a super basketball all week"insisted Luis Scola. Of these two ambitious nations, only one will see the final.
France – Argentina, at 2 pm (French time), on M6 and Canal + Sport