France, while often thought of as one of the basketball powerhouses in Europe, have not finished in the top three in EuroBasket since 2013. But thanks to a close win over Italy in an overtime thriller, they are one step closer to being back on the podium. Coming off of a nail-biter against Turkey, which saw them needing a last second Rudy Gobert put-back to win the game by one, France got off to a nice 27-20 start. Evan Fournier started the game hot going 3-6 in the first quarter and the offense as a whole looked very crisp.
In the second period, both teams struggled to score as they managed just 11 points a piece and Fournier himself went 0-4. With France up 38-31 at half time, it was their game to lose. But much like their game against Turkey on Saturday, France struggled mightily in the third quarter. The Knicks’ shooting guard shot just 1-5 in the quarter and the team had some major turnover problems which allowed Italy to gain a lot of confidence and momentum leading to a 31-18 run.
With Italy now up 62-56 going into the fourth, France needed to once again show the kind of resiliency and heart that they had been showing throughout this tournament. Fournier only went 1-1 in the 4th quarter, but Gobert, and Heurtel had some crucial baskets down the stretch to send the game to overtime.
Captain Evan Fournier & France advance to the EuroBasket Semifinals, coming back late then knocking out Italy in OT 93-85— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) September 14, 2022
Fournier started hot then struggled:
Fouled out in OT
Next for France:
Poland or Luka Doncic’s Slovenia pic.twitter.com/c8ChxYKEmF
Fournier chipped in another basket during the extra period, but ended up fouling out and it was Heurtel who was in the spotlight once again as he went 3-4 to help give France a 93-85 win. The players seemed happy about the win but were hesitant to get too joyous as they were well aware that they needed to play better. When asked about the win, Fournier, who finished the game with 17 points on 6/17 shooting, stated, “It shows that we have a lot of heart, that we never quit and are always in the moment. But to be honest we can’t have those huge holes where we just don’t score, we turn the ball over and we give teams confidence.” He went on to say, “we have good players with a lot of experience, but we can’t get into those situations in the first place.”
“…What is this? We played badly…This game goes to the trash can and we leave this behind us. But never again. Never again. This is not us..”— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) September 9, 2022
— French Captain Evan Fournier after a too-close win v Hungary
France has advanced in EuroBasket - Turkey nextpic.twitter.com/NztrLdZfTJ
France remain one of the favorites especially now that other contenders like Slovenia, Serbia, and Greece have been eliminated but the task still remains difficult. They will face Poland on Friday and will face the winner of Germany/Spain after that.