From PA International, Paris
Russia and Australia reminded France at the recent Grenoble tournament that their European title defence in Greece this month is going to be a incredibly difficult.
Alain Jardel’s outfit, who opened up the Grenoble tournament with a 70-59 triumph over Hungary, were narrowly beaten by Russia the following day, 64-63.
Les Bleues bounced back with a 70-68 triumph over Australia.
Russia, traditionally among the heavyweights in the women’s game and the side which France beat to win the title two years ago, are likely to be their stiffest competition in Greece
Their contest on September 3 went down to the wire.
Irina Osipova made a pair of free throws with a minute remaining to give the visitors a 63-61 advantage, only for Cathy Melain, arguably France’s best player this summer, to pull her side level from the free throw line with 31 seconds remaining.
Osipova was a menace to French hopes. Fouled again, she made one of two free throws to put Russia back in front.
France’s Emmeline NDongue missed a potential game-winning shot near the end and Russia held on for victory.
Jardel’s team hit back immediately the next day against Australia, the bronze medallists at last summer’s World Championships.
Edwige Lawson gave France a 67-64 edge with three minutes remaining when she buried a three-pointer, but Australia scored a pair of baskets to lead 68-67.
Cathy Melain rose to the occasion, making a three-pointer with just three seconds remaining to beat the Opals 70-68.
France: Sauret 13, Melain 18, Le Drean 4, Lesdema 10, Antibe 10, puis Lawson 11, Godin 0, Dumerc 0, Tonnerre 0, Dijon 0, Reghaissia 4.
Australia: Veal 5, Boyd 5, Sporn 10, Fallon 13, Batkovic 9, puis Tranquilli 2, Brogan 10, Porter 5, Snell 6, Datson 3.