|Raphael Binvignat is averaging 8.3 points per game on solid shooting percentages, ranking 6th in 3pt Field Goal Percentage|
by Yarone Arbel
One of the strongest memories of the people who attended the 2010 U16 European Championship in Bar, Montenegro is the loss of France in the Quarter-Finals to Spain.
Perhaps a loss is a soft word to describe the way France dropped their ticket to the Semi-Finals after holding it very-very tight to their chest.
Inside the last minute the French held a six point lead and the ball but then started a series of mistakes by the French side that seemed like was inspired by the French flick "Zig-Zag Story".
First came a foul on a three point shot, following the free throws France failed to in-bound the ball with a line violation, then one of their best free throw shooters missed one attempt from the charity stripe and yet another foul on a three point shot helped Spain make it a one point game.
France still had the ball up by one with eight seconds to play and after a timeout needed to in-bound from mid-court, but failed to do that as well and to stop Spain's fast break sent them once again to the line and saw the win slip out of their hands.
To try and get a little bit better sense of that, and the general performance of France in this tournament, Raphael Binvignat came to help.
"I'm not sure I can really explain what happened," he confessed in an interview with the official website of the competition.
"I certainly don't think Spain is a better team than us, actually I'm sure that we are the better team, but we simply gave them the game.
"We lost it because of a mental problem, not because of basketball. Our coach kept telling us to focus and not to lose confidence, but we kept making mistake after mistake.
"Perhaps we were afraid to win this game in some strange way," he concludes.
The French guard/forward is one of the more interesting prospects on the team, even if his numbers don't pop your eyes out.
In eight games he posted 8.3 ppg, 2.4 rpb, 1.3 apg and 1.4 spg but his overall performance has been improving as the tournament goes on.
What catches your eyes instantly when watching the French talent is the way he attacks the rim, with great timing he seems to always find his way to the rim and finish well.
Binvignat also brings to the floor good defense on and off the ball that show his work ethic and big will to win.
"The player I would like to be like is Mickael Pietrus," he admits.
"It's because of the way he attacks the basket, which is something I like to do as well.
"It used to be one of the things I didn't do well, but I worked hard to improve it and now it seems better," to say the least.
France's prospect grew up in a region that isn't famous for its basketball tradition, but for some reason the Binvignat family was infected with the basketball virus as his sister and brothers are also playing the game.
"Next year I'll go play in Cholet and try to improve my game some more, and hopefully get another chance with the U18 national team.
"Then I hope we'll have the needed concentration not to drop these games again.
"The most important thing is that we'll learn from this game for next time."
After dropping the U16 Quarter-Finals also last year, with Binvignat sitting on the deep bench as a young back up, the team that will represent France next year in the U18 grew enough thick skin to handle different scenarios, in hope the one from this year won't ever return.