E.N. France

Olympics-2020: French basketball players, beaten in the semifinals by Japan, will play for bronze

The coach of the French basketball team, Valérie Garnier, during the semi-final against Japan, on August 6, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Thomas COEX AFP

Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗

They hoped to push the doors of Olympus, but the French basketball players were prevented from doing so in the semifinals (87-71), largely beaten by Japan, the surprise team of the Tokyo Games, and now only have bronze for to console.

The Blue, who wanted to return to an Olympic final nine years after London-2012, will have to beat Serbia on Saturday, discarded in the semi-final by the United States (79-59). This third-place match will be a remake of the Euro final, which ended with a defeat in mid-June, the fifth in a row at this stage of the continental event.

The Americans, in search of a seventh consecutive coronation, will start favorites against these Japanese women, who have the best course in their history and bring a breath of fresh air to women’s basketball. In the group stage, Sue and her teammates won (86-69).

The disillusionment is great for the players of Valérie Garnier, who thought they had done the hardest in the quarterfinals, breaking the curse against the best Spanish enemies. But they fell from high against the team of the host country, nicknamed “the squad of dawn”, which, as in the group stage (74-70), made the defense dizzy by showing a tireless collective animation and a formidable skill.

La sélectionneuse de l'équipe de France de basket, Valérie Garnier, lors de la demi-finale contre le Japon, le 6 août 2021 aux Jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020

The coach of the French basketball team, Valérie Garnier, during the semi-final against Japan, on August 6, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Thomas COEX AFP

The Blue had yet assured this time that they knew what to do to bring their opponents back to earth. And this was seen in the first quarter, during which they left little space, managing to find the target quite well (22-14).

Calvary

But the rest was an ordeal. Suddenly accelerating the pace, by dint of crazy races in all directions, the Japanese have created breaches on all sides. And the wonderful Rui Machida to achieve the most assists in an Olympic game (18).

La Japonaise Rui Machida tente de déborder la Française Marine Fauthoux, lors de leur demi-finale, le 6 août 2021 aux Jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020

The Japanese Rui Machida tries to outflank the French Marine Fauthoux, during their semi-final, August 6, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aris MESSINIS AFP

All her teammates took advantage of it, including Yuki Miyasawa (17 pts) and pivot Himawari Hakao, domineering inside (17 pts). And to top it off, the team showed devilish precision behind the arc (11/22), a strong point yet well targeted by Valérie Garnier.

La Japonaise Yuki Miyazawa tente un tir au milieu de la défense française, lors de leur demi-finale, le 6 août 2021 aux Jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020

The Japanese Yuki Miyazawa tries a shot in the middle of the French defense, during their semi-final, on August 6, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aris MESSINIS AFP

On the scoreboard, the penalty was significant (27-12 in the 2nd quarter, 27-16 in the 3rd), their delay then culminating at 27 lengths in the last period, during which the frustration of the Blue was noticeable on the floor of the Super Arena.

Especially since their bankruptcy was also offensive. Apart from Sandrine Gruda (18 pts at 8/11), their clumsiness in the racket, despite open shots, was too penalizing to be able to consider a better turn of events in this semi-final.

La Française Sandrine Gruda tente de marquer un panier malgré la Japonaise Nanako Todo, lors de leur demi-finale, le 6 août 2021 aux Jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020The French Sandrine Gruda tries to score a basket despite the Japanese Nanako Todo, during their semi-final, August 6, 2021 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aris MESSINIS AFP

This defeat is certainly hard to take, but it is indisputable for the French women. They will have to show great strength of character not to return empty-handed from Tokyo, as was the case five years ago in Rio, where they lost, against Serbia, for the bronze medal.


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