Gold diggers: the Blues in search of consecration

1,818 days. “2017 is a long way off”, breathes Vincent Poirier. ” It was five years ago and in addition, not many of the current team have known him, only three. 2017 is a long way off, indeed, but the change in the international calendar, coupled with the global Covid pandemic, has changed everything. The Blues may have rebounded tremendously in China during the World Cup, shone with a thousand lights in Japan for the Olympic Games, their last image on the European scene remains this pitiful elimination against Germany on September 9, 2017 at Sinan Erdem Dome of Istanbul (81-84), drunk with blows by Daniel Theis and Dennis Schröder. And in a wink of fate, 1,818 days later, France is reconnecting with its continental history against… Germany.

Five years later, revenge tonight for Evan Fournier and the Blues? (photo: FIBA)

“We learn from all the defeats”, said Rudy Gobert on Wednesday, referring to the setback in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This sentence also applies perfectly to the 2017 campaign. Flamboyant in preparation, the France team had then believed themselves to be unstoppable, equipped with a multitude of superior attacking talents. But precisely, that summer, there was no collective, no defensive will, only individuals. The Blues were able to draw the necessary lessons, also reinforced by the experience of international windows which was particularly valuable in the construction of this group. Two years later, it was a real team that stunned the world in Asia, notably overthrowing the United States in the quarter-finals.

The toughest EuroBasket in history?

If we are talking about 2017 again, it is because it is indeed this sad image of Istanbul which still persists on the European scene, which remains the latest. The France team may have regained its status as world leader, but this nasty task remains to be corrected. With the feeling of being in the middle of the ford, no longer quite in the continuity of 2021 because of the absences of the De Colo – Batum duo, but no longer at all the unfit team of five years ago. “It’s a new adventure that begins”says Vincent Collet. “We have to write it together. We had introduced the theme of robbery in 2019 because we were coming out of a resounding failure at the Euro, we were not expected. Last year, we were on a mission, with a very high objective. This year, we are between the two because unfortunately we did not completely keep the silver medal group. We are both engaged in a process of reconstruction but also in the desire to confirm what has been done during the last two campaigns. We must both use the treasure of the past year in terms of state of mind and determination but also invent the path that will lead us to the best places in the Euro. »

In his legendary prudence, Vincent Collet evokes ” the best places of the Euro ». Its players, after having competed with Team USA in the final of the Olympic Games, obviously do not have the same aspirations. Only one place really interests them, the first. ” I have never had gold with the French teams before, whether in juniors or in A”sighs Rudy Gobert. “I got bronze. I had the money. This year, we want gold, very clearly. » Symbol of a 1992 generation which has already almost done better than the Parker generation with its Olympic final, and another world podium, but which still lacks the supreme consecration, namely a gold medal, to definitively enter the Pantheon of tricolor sport.

Mike Tobey’s Slovenia will seek revenge this summer (Photo: FIBA)

Only problem: at least six nations can legitimately display the same ambitions. The rarefaction of the EuroBasket has increased its value and all the selections have come with the big armada, to practically form the highest field in history: Greece has the atomic weapon Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serbia is carried by a beaming Nikola Jokic, Germany is a very serious outsider at home, Italy will want to confirm its good Olympics, Turkey is very attractive on paper, Lithuania wants to redeem itself from its last disappointing summers, Spain… remains Spain and Slovenia by Luka Doncic is animated by sacred fire.

As much a European coat of arms to restore
that a world prestige to consolidate

At this level, the French team is still in a kind of paradox: a rare experience at this level but a renewed group this summer, which is still looking for its cruising speed. “We are a young team”confirms Vincent Collet. “We need experience and we don’t have a lot of time to acquire it. I have confidence in our potential but for the moment it is not optimized. » In this respect, the dumpling from Sarajevo could ultimately serve the purposes of the Blues by acting as an electroshock. “I think this defeat in Bosnia did us a lot of good”, opines Rudy Gobert. Just like the rout against Japan, five days before the Olympics, in admittedly special conditions, could have been beneficial last year. “Until then, we won all our matches more or less easily, despite all our mistakes, and realizing that it won’t happen every time by losing in Bosnia, it gave us a little boost »agrees Vincent Poirier. “We proved last year that we show a completely different face when the real competition arrives. » By the players’ own admission, the intensity of training has been considerably increased since the arrival in Cologne, a sign of the approach of serious things. “If we do not react after the defeat of Bosnia, we will never get there at the Euro”warns Andrew Albicy. “I think it’s very good that we’re starting straight away with the game against Germany. »

Elie Okobo, first international campaign and symbol of the rejuvenation of the Blues (photo: FIBA)

An opposition against the host country which will serve as a life-size test for the France team, as a marker as to the feasibility of its ambitions. So of course, no medals will be awarded this Thursday evening, but you have to press the switch and go into conquest mode. “It’s tomorrow (Thursday) when we have to enter the competition”urges Vincent Collet. “It’s a particular format where you want to win right away but beyond that, you have to see how you evolve. In all cases, you have to move forward, progress, learn quickly and plan for the cutthroat matches. From Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is obvious that there has been an awareness. We feel a rise in power in terms of intensity and aggressiveness. In the training sessions at the start of the week, there was a step upwards and that’s a good thing. » If we take the overview, the failure of 2017 was salutary in the great history of the French team. That this Bosnian blunder is just as much in the short experience of these Blues version 2022. Because after all, there is as much a European coat of arms to restore as a world prestige to consolidate in Germany…

In Cologne,

by @Alexandre Lacoste

September 1, 2022 at 6:00 am

1,818 days. “2017 is a long way off”, breathes Vincent Poirier. ” It was five years ago and in addition, not many of the current team have known him, only three. 2017 is a long way off, indeed, but the change in the international calendar, coupled with the global Covid pandemic, has changed everything. The Blues have beautiful …

The article is in French

Tags: Gold diggers Blues search consecration

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