“Sufficiency”, “relaxation”, “intensity a little below”: the words of the Blues after their victory in two stages over Belgium

Discover the reactions of some of the players in the victory of the French basketball team over Belgium on Thursday (89-71), in preparation for the Euro, in Montpellier.

Evan Fournier (10) and Rudy Gobert (27) give their feelings after the 90-71 victory against Belgium on Tuesday evening in Montpellier. Norbert Scanella / PANORAMIC

Evan Fournier (back and captain of the France team, after the 90-71 victory over Belgium on Thursday, in Montpellier): “(on the start of the match) There is discontent, disappointment. We have big goals, we say things to each other and we simply haven’t done them. We are not going to go through four paths. We were very focused against Italy because we weren’t satisfied with our match there (78-77 victory after extra time in Bologna, editor’s note), we wanted to win in a better way and we pressed well against to the Italians. I think there was a form of complacency. Afterwards, we have a very young group. Casually, we are only three to have done several international competitions. Preparation is also made for that. In fact, it would have been nice if the Belgians pushed us a little deeper so that we really understood that we couldn’t start the matches like that. Hoping that the station wagon puts our ideas in place on how we should start. The results of the first four matches? Preparations like that, when you win easily, it’s not a gift. What awaits us at the Euro will be very tough. I hope that the two matches that are coming, especially against the Czechs (August 24 at Bercy, editor’s note), will allow us to have a big opposition. They play very well, they are in place, we know them. It will be a good test for us.”

Against teams like that, we manage to get by. But against others, we will pay dearly…
Vincent Poirier

Vincent Poirier (pivot): “There was a little relaxation in defense at the start, it’s not the face we want to show. We have to show tenacity and aggression in all the matches and against all the teams. It is our trademark. There was perhaps fatigue, but we are not going to find excuses. It will be like that at the European Championship, with five matches in seven days (during the group stage, editor’s note). You will need to have the legs to do it, and especially to do it as a team. (…) We take a lot of counter-attacks, easy baskets. It must not happen. Against teams like that, we manage to get by. But against others, we will pay dearly… (his association with Gobert) We worked on it, it’s been a while. We did it last year (at the Olympics). We try to find the automatisms. It’s true that having two grown-ups is not usual. It can annoy a lot of defenses… It’s up to us to combine well and show the coach that we play well together. The margin of progress? Lots of communication and collective habits. Everything has to become fluid and we don’t even have to talk anymore.

Rudy Gobert (pivot): “The Belgians started the match with a lot of aggression, they played very good basketball and on our side, the intensity was a little below compared to the Italian match. But we got stronger as the game progressed and we were able to play our basketball, the ball moved better in attack. It was a very good test for us. They put us in difficulty at the start of the match and that’s what we need. The bench ? They came back with a lot of energy. This is the team we want to be: we want each player who enters the field to be able to bring, not only in terms of talent but a positive energy to the team. (…)

I have to be able to impact the opposing players by getting into them a little more.
Rudy Gobert

It’s an athletic team but also very talented and can play very high level basketball for 40 minutes. It must be our strength. We know that it can make the difference in big matches, which are nothing to play for. We try to ensure that everyone is connected, together, and that even when we have moments, phases that are a little difficult, and this will be the case at the Euro, that the state of mind is irreproachable. (…) I was not aggressive enough at the start of the game. I was playing for my teammates, but I wasn’t really staring at the defense. I have to be able to impact the opposing players by getting into them a little more. I have to do it consistently, every game and more often. It’s really going to help our team take it to the next level and open up the game.”