French Look To Stay Grounded

20.07.2009

By David Hein

France national team coach Jean-Aymi Toupane wants to make sure that his team remains grounded after they upset the U20 European Championship hosts Greece to take top honors in Group B.

"Coming over here we haven't expected to do what we've been doing. Beating Greece in Greece is always hard. The only thing I hope is that we keep our feet on the floor for the continuation. The tournament is only going to start now," said Toupane, whose team knocked off Greece 81-71.

"This is a good win, a big win. And it will teach us how to win teams like this. But maybe the next one will be more difficult."

France enter the qualifying round of the competition with a 2-0 record and will face Latvia, Russia and Spain in hopes of reaching the quarter-finals on Friday.

Toupane said the key to France's chances early on in the qualifying round will be motivation.

"How motivated are we going to be? We had a big win over Greece. The worst thing for me is not knowing how we are going to be for the next game. I told my players that we cannot be celebrating like we won the title. There are still six games left. It's a long way," said the coach.

The French won Group B with excellent defense. They held opponents to just 66.0 points per game - ranked tied for second best in the competition. Toupane's men also held opponents to just 34.6 percentage shooting over three games - the best mark in the competition.

"Guys like Thomas (Heurtel) and Edwin (Jackson) lead the offense. They will help us score. But our defense helps us stay in the game. That's the main thing. We have a good defense so any time you don't score you're still in the game," Toupane explained his philosophy.

The French - hoping to claim their first U20 crown and just their third medal after bronze in 2002 and 1992 - have also shot very well, hitting a third-best 48.6 percent as a team.

Toupane however hopes his team can avoid the usual problems that come with a young side.

"The thing about young players is that they can be high or they can be low. And we are trying to be more constant in this situation and I hope we will be able to do it.," said the coach.

"The thing I don't like is some times the lack of experience. Some times we are leading by 10 and all we have to do is move the ball and make the defense work. But no, we shoot. Some times you really just have to teach them how to win. "

And when asked what he liked most about his team three games into the event, Toupane said: "The thing I really like about this team is that we never give up. That's the most important thing. That's the really positive thing. We never give up."


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