By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
DONGGUAN – Nicolas Batum is one of the last links of this French national team roster with the era of the “Parker generation.” And one of the few things that the older generation didn’t achieve, this team which is led by the 30 years old Batum, finally did.
The exciting thing, however, is that they beat the USA by being among other things taller. Coach Gregg Popovich had to play small against Rudy Gobert, but the small ball didn’t affect at all the French game plan.
“We knew, and we didn’t want to adjust to that,” explained Batum after the game. “We wanted to keep him on the court. Because… he is our best player. He is the back-to-back defensive player of the year. We know what he can bring in defense and offense as well. That’s why the coach kept him on the court. We knew that his defense would help us. And he also help us on offense. He got better, and that will be the next step for him. He has shown some improvement, he moves better, he knows how to get inside, and if he gets to be like we want him to be, it will be the next step.”
And also one of the surprises of the game was Frank Ntilikina. He not only played good defense but made some big shots down the stretch, scoring seven of his total 11 points in the last quarter.
“He was clutch,” said Batum. “And that was a big turnaround for us. We lost our point guard (Thomas Heurtel) to injury during the preparation, and we needed him to have a big tournament. It’s something that will help him for the rest of his career. And this can be a big deal for him during next year, cause he is a great player”.
While veterans like Nando De Colo and Nicolas Batum are leading the charge, the younger generation of France, which of course also includes Evan Fournier, is locked and loaded.
Photo credit: FIBA.Basketball