|30 July 2009|
France coach Arnaud Guppillotte has issued a chilling warning to their fellow contenders after stating that despite a convincing 72-52 win over Lithuania, there is plenty more to follow from his players.
While to many observers their defence might have looked to have been excellent, he has claimed there is more than a little fine tuning still to do.
"I think that we can get even better defensively as we have not played many games lately and while the team played very well, I think there is more to come."
"You could also tell that our three-point shooting needs some work but I think this is more because at this age, we need the players not just to always shoot, even if they are open outside."
"They need to learn to make better decisions and to sometimes pass the ball inside.
"I am sure that we can get confidence from this game but our shooting and defence will both improve as we move through this tournament."
There was little sign of things to come shortly after tip-off with Lithuania competing well from the tip, they battled and with a nice ebb and flow to the game, they took a 16-15 lead.
This was however to prove a false dawn as the French turned the defensive screw and locked down Lithuania much more impressively after lacking intensity early on. They also showed the tournament that they have plenty of depth on their roster.
By the time the buzzer had sounded for half-time, they had 9 separate scorers in the book as Coach Guppillotte rotated his players effectively to secure a 37-25 advantage.
It wasn't all plain sailing however with his team still scoreless from beyond the arc despite jacking up 12 attempts.
Perhaps wisely, France maximised their height advantage in the paint to good effect at the start of the second half, using the big duo of Jodie Cornelie and Christelle Diallo in tandem for others to score around their screens.
This helped the French storm into a 51-32 lead midway through the third and threatening to really put Lithuania away in ruthless fashion. However their opponents then dug deep and found some real fight to give themselves a glimmer of hope. They suddenly exploded with an 8-2 burst, a tough offensive play along the baseline by Monika Aleksaite particularly catching the eye.
Instead of the blow-out that had threatened, Lithuania found themselves 55-44 behind going into the final period. With plenty of work to do but showed their opponents they were capable of competing - albeit only in patches of the game.
Just when it looked like there could be an exciting finale, France found new momentum and Lithuania could get no closer as the Les Blues ran out comfortable winners, eventually finding some range from outside and getting ten players to register a score.