By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cologne, Germany – France entered the 2022 Eurobasket as one of the favorites for the gold medal but the picture they showed in the opener against co-host Germany was quite far from what a contender looks like.
Rallied by a nearly sold-out crowd, the German team put on a vigorous and highly energetic defensive performance, to suffocate the French side and defeat them 76 – 63. Even the most talented of Vincent Collet’s players (and France has some of the top offensive talents that can be found in the EuroBasket) looked completely unable to contribute.
“No one said it’s going to be easy,” said France star center Rudy Gobert. “We are facing this team at their home. We aren’t good today. We got way too many turnovers. And they were very physical. We got to find ways to play our game when the other team is physical and the game isn’t played our way.”
Gobert finished the game with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds but struggled with the double-teaming and the traps that the German defense had prepared for him. He assumed responsibility for the mistakes he made, confident that the real Gobert will appear in the next matches.
“I wasn’t good,” Gobert said. “I know I’m going to be better. I missed a lot of free throws. I missed a lot of things that I think I can make. If I raise my level and we take care of the ball, it’s a different game.”
Only Guerschon Yabusele (18 points) finished in double figures for France apart from Gobert. Evan Fournier had seven points on 2-10 shots while Elie Okobo – one of the most prominent EuroLeague scorers last season – shot 0-4 from the field.
France missed their buckets and will need them moving forward. Group B, has the day off Friday (2/9) and that can really benefit his team ahead of the next against a Lithuanian team that is looking for its first win as well after a defeat to Slovenia. Gobert hopes that there were some lessons to be learned from the loss to Germany that will ultimately benefit his squad.
“It’s going to be of use to us,” Gobert said. “Take care of a few technical details. Take care of the ball. Play with physicality. For us, it’s a process. We’ll watch the film. We know that we’re going to be better every day.