France took a huge step towards the quarter-finals tonight in Lulea as they defeated Italy 85-52.
The French showed in their first game against Bosnia Herzegovina that they could put points on the board as they racked up 98. Against Italy they showed that they can excel on the defensive end of the floor too and they literally choked the life out of Italy with an awesome defensive display.
Les Bleues held the Italians to just 38% shooting as they turned the screws with their perimeter and interior defense. Boris Diaw only contributed 2 points, but he was everywhere on the defensive end, pulling down 10 rebounds and picking off 2 steals.
|Game MVP Tariq Abdul Wahad|
Italy stuck with France during the first quarter, but French guard Laurent Foirest hit a 3-pointer from inside his own half a the buzzer to give his team a 21-18 lead. France carried the momentum into the second quarter and stayed hot for the remainder of the entire game. By the start of the 4th, the score was 63-41 and Italy were effectively out of the game.
Tariq Abdul-Wahad earned game MVP honours, top scoring for the French with 16 points. Cyril Julian added 14 but it was truly a team performance from France as they had 5 players scoring in double figures.
Nikola Radulovic impressed for Italy with 18 points, but it was scant consolation in a poor performance from the Italians.
Italy will now face Bosnia and Herzegovina in what is effectively an elimination game. The winner will keep their tournament hopes alive while the loser will go directly home.
France on the other hand will play Slovenia to decide the top 2 positions in the group.