France, Czech Republic Battle For Third

27 July 2008

France will look to bounce back from their most lopsided defeat of the tournament to finish third in the U18 European Championship for Women on Sunday.

In what was arguably their worst - and only their second - defeat of the tournament, the French fell behind early on and appeared to be a shadow of their former dominant/confident selves as they were humbled 68-

Diandra Tchatchouang (France)
France will need more from Diandra Tchatchouang if the hope to finish with bronze.
45 by Lithuania, the last undefeated team in the competition.

Les Bleus made only four field goals in the first half and only got their first basket with seven minutes left in the second quarter.

There is little positive Gregory Halin's girls can take from their first-half performance on Saturday. While Lithuania were, to their credit, playing airtight defense for long stretches, it is undeniable that France missed shots they had made regularly and almost automatically in their first six games - which were all wins.

Les Bleus must rediscover the aggression and sense of urgency they displayed so well earlier in the competition, when they would use a huge run in the first half to take a sizeable lead and force their opponents to play catch up, which most failed to do.

Diandra Tchatchouang was shut down by the Lithuanian defense and she must bounce back if France are to have any chance of claiming a stake for the bronze medal, which would be their best result in the U18 since a silver in 2002.

Their perimeter shooters must also do a much better job as France made only one of 16 three-point attempts against Lithuania with the lone make coming late in the fourth quarter when the game's outcome was already known.

France must look to establish their low post game early on and take full advantage of their height, length and power advantage over a more compact Czech side.

The Czech Republic couldn't have put on a much better effort than what they did against Russia. They were two minutes away from reaching their first final at this tournament.

Romana Ptackova's girls got to the free-throw line early and often which enabled them to get Russia into foul trouble as well as keep the tempo of the game as they like it - manageable.

Much like France, they will have to improve their outside shooting (five for 24 from long range). In addition, they must try and keep their aggression going, attack France's interior players and get to the charity stripe where they were consistent (19 for 25) against Russia.

These two teams do have a past history as they met at this stage of the competition in 2005 in Budapest. France won that time on a score of 77-66.

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