Fast First Required To Frighten France

18 June 2013

EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013

Emilie Gomis (France)
Emilie Gomis and France cruised through the first round and will be hoping to continue that trend in Wednesday's final game

By Joe Hewison

France were unbeatable in the first round and next up for the hosts it is Croatia, who advance after a mixed first phase.

Last Time Out: France completed a perfect first round record with a 79-47 thrashing of Great Britain. Croatia left Group D on a losing note, falling 74-68 to the Czech Republic after splitting their first two against Lithuania and Belarus.

Key Match-Up: The battle of the benches could be what decides this game. France have outscored their three previous opponents by a combined total of 133 to 32 in terms of bench scoring. This illustrates well that it is the hosts' strength in depth, rather than individual ability, which overpowers every team in front of them.

Key Stat: Croatia have trailed at the end of the first period in each of their opening three games. A similar slow start, against a French side that has only been behind for 21 seconds in the entire tournament, could be catastrophic.

X-Factor: The area in which Croatia have been able to hurt teams is on the fast break. It is quick counters that helped them recover from a poor start to beat Lithuainia - when such offences brought them 25 points - and they have sought to recreate such patterns in their games since.

From The Camps: Croatia Head Coach Stipe Bralic said: "To make it to the next round of the competition is a good result for our team because we are playing without some of our stars.

"But we will try to reach the quarter-finals, we have a chance in this second round."

France guard Edwige Lawson-Wade said: "You never know who is going to feel good on which day so if everybody keeps their confidence then it is going to be even harder for the opponents to get ready for us and to defend us.

"Everybody is scouting, they know our plays and they know everybody. But if they don't know where it is going to come from then it is way harder to defend. To be able to count on the whole team rather than one or two players is a big strength."


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