The escape to the antipodes begins ideally for Blue. The French team dominated Australia (70-57) for their first game of the Women’s Basketball World Cup on Thursday, September 22. Threatened by a cascade of packets, the Tricolores delivered a magnificent match of intensity and combat to overcome the vice world champions, who however played at home during this World Cup in Sydney.
– French basketball teams (@FRABasketball) September 22, 2022
Without four of the top five scorers in the Olympic adventure that ended with bronze in Tokyo a year ago, France has been able to find new ingredients to extinguish local players and their boiling crowd. Captain Sarah Michel’s teammates immediately set a high intensity, especially in defensive rotations. Totally suffocated, the Australians collected missed shots (26%, 22% triples), well embarrassed by the arms of the tricolor defense.
However, everything was in place against the Blues, with the last minute package of Marine Johannes and a truncated preparation for Iliana Rupert, who arrived only a few hours before, or Gabby Williams, retained in the WNBA. This did not seem to faze a second Williams, part of which drummed into the game with 12 consecutive points in the first quarter, 23 in the end, her record in the selection. But more than a solo performance from his winger, it is a collective success that new coach Jean-Aimé Toupane can rely on.
With many inexperienced players at this level, the France team has been able to dictate its law to one of the best nations in the world. This one, still far from an ideal match, with an offensive animation necessarily perfectible without its usual spearheads and with a serious deficit in rebounding (36, against 49 for the Opals). “Not everything was perfect, but the intentions were there.Sarah Michel reacted to the BeIN Sports microphone. It does not surprise me, I know that this team has heart, qualities. You just have to show them. We knew it was important to put pressure on them.“
The collective and mental values of these Blues can still give hope for many beautiful surprises. They will have to start recovering their physical freshness, with a group stage played on the run and a second game on Friday against Canada.