Mali has undoubtedly missed a good opportunity to win the match against Argentina, Saturday morning in Bangkok, during the first meeting counting for Group B of the FIBA U19 World Cup.
The well organized Malian team quickly led the way (6-0) against an Argentinian team lacking address. She won this first quarter time with a clear lead of +9 (17-8). Argentina is back in the second quarter but it is still Mali who is ahead and manages the game to go at half-time with +11 (29-18).
On returning from the break, the Malian machine kicks in, the collective melts and the game is at a rough level. The team loses its automatisms and stumbles on a good Argentine defense. In lack of solution to the image of Assetou Sisssoko, the players multiply shots at long distances without success at the expense of an internal game that could have been more effective with players like Sika Koné (12pts, 11rbds) or Gnere Alima Dembele (10pts, 7rbds).
Argentina gets organized and enhances its game with some successes on the outside shots. Worn by her star player Florencia Chagas (17pts, 7rbds), the team is back and is led by only one point at the end of the third quarter time (40-39).
A mano to mano enters between the two teams in the last quarter time. Thanks to some free-throws Mali has the opportunity to give a little air, but has difficulty in achieving them. Mali remains stuck but is still ahead (52-51). A well-conducted attack by Argentina allowed Chagas, on an award winning shot to project his team ahead (52-54) to 1’06. On a fault of Fanta Koné, Camila Suarez (1/2) gives 3 points ahead to Argentina. 20 seconds from the end Koné on the occasion of bringing Mali to 1 point from Argentina, but she misses two free throws. It’s Argentina who finally wins after doing so are 11 points behind at the end of the 3rd quarter time.
Mali alone deprived itself of a precious victory that could have allowed him to gain confidence, before facing Belgium and China. The team has accumulated the good and the worst in this game: disorganized game, inefficiency on free-throws, only 26.30% (too weak) and weakness of the bench (only 11 points scored against 27 for China) and a lot of fault (23).