France Satisfied With Silver Lining


France proved at the EuroBasket Women 2005 that every cloud does have a silver lining.

An unsuccessful campaign - some might say unfortunate - ended on a high note as Les Bleues comfortably dispatched Latvia 85-62 on Sunday to secure fifth position and qualify for the next year's FIBA World Championship for Women.

France, EuroBasket winners in 2001, finished second in their group behind eventual champions the Czech Republic, only to see their hopes of glory dashed by runners-up Russia in the quarter-finals.

But victories over Poland and Latvia guaranteed their passage to Brazil next year, and captain Cathy Melain admitted that was their priority coming into the tournament.

"We wanted to go as far as possible in the competition but the number one objective was to go to the World Championship," she said. "Our mission is accomplished.

"We are happier than in the last European Championships where we came out very frustrated (France finished fifth and missed out on a place at the 2004 Olympics).

"But we lost to the gold and silver medallists so we should not have any regrets," she added. "We must remember our unity and solidarity."

Point guard Celine Dumerc, France's leading scorer against Latvia with 16 points, was also delighted with their final position.

"I really feel a lot of joy," she said. "It was not easy after the quarter-final loss to rediscover our motivation but we really wanted to win our last two matches.

"I am really happy we finished off the tournament that way. There is no disappointment on my side. We must put things back into perspective - it is not easy to finish fifth at the Euros."

Shooting guard Emmanuelle Hermouet added on "We reached one of our objectives so we can only be satisfied.

"We had trouble with the Russians but we reacted the right way. The final eventually took place between Russia and the Czech Republic, who both beat us.

"We could have done better but there are always 'ifs'. We are going to Brazil and that's a great achievement."

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