Fab France Make Final

28 June 2013
By Paul Nilsen
8. Edwige Lawson-Wade (France)
Edwige Lawson-Wade stepped up for France with 8 points and 4 assists

Turning Point: After a severely worrying final quarter drought for France which lasted over seven minutes and helped Turkey get back to within two points, Sandrine Gruda got one to drop in seriously ugly fashion off the rim. It wasn't pretty, much like the French performance, but it was a speck of potential gold dust since it made it a two-shot game and re-ignited her teams' flagging offensive game just when it really mattered.

Stats Don't Lie: After ten minutes, Turkey had pulled down a meagre three defensive rebounds and had absolutely nothing on the offensive glass whatsoever. That set the mountain they had to climb. They also made only 1 of their first 10 attempts from the three-point line.

Game Hero: There was very little to cheer for France other than the all-important result. However, whilst Sandrine Gruda had an off-night shooting-wise but came up big with a terrific nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Host nation France made up for their semi-final loss against Turkey at EuroBasket Women 2011 by grinding out a 57-49 success in front of a jubilant crowd in Orchies to book a final date with Spain.

It was far from a vintage performance by France and typically conservative, but the lack of flair and shredded nerves during their mammoth final quarter drought when Turkey threatened to spoil the party have already been forgotten.

The history books will simply show Les Bleues remained unbeaten and showed the necessary control, defence and outstanding mental strength to progress and make the Final.

Head coach Pierre Vincent pointed out the importance of simply getting to the gold medal game, the most important step of all.

"Every day for the last year in France, everybody has been talking about us winning the Final, but I wasn't even absolutely sure we would be in the Final - until now.

"We are happy to win this game against a really good team. It is difficult to control the game as Turkey play really quick and aggressively with a good outside game.

"We were aware of the pick and roll and we forced them into doing the things they don't normally do."

France were very impressive during the first ten minutes. They were excellent on the defensive glass and raced into a 12-2 advantage.

At 21-9, the game looked to be in danger of slipping away from Turkey, but they came with a tough run in the second quarter to claw their way back after improving their defence.

Nevriye Yilmaz kept them alive with a number of early jump shots and having managed to hang tough, they left the court 31-23 behind at half-time and perhaps feeling like they had dodged a major bullet.

France managed to keep their opponents at arms' length for most of the third quarter and it wasn't until the last period when the pendulum threatened to finally swing the way of Turkey.

Employing a smaller three-guard line-up, Turkey locked down France defensively and gave them a taste of their own medicine.

With France marooned on 51 points for seven minutes, Esmeral Tuncluer dropped a three-ball to take Turkey to 49 points and set up a tense finale.

But, to their absolute credit, France maintained their composure to execute in crunch time and take a priceless win.





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