France Hit Their Straps, Israel Suffer

06 September 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Turning Point: The French were already ahead and cruising when they led 38-29 at half-time. Then in a whirlwind two-minute spell, they drilled ten unanswered points and it was au revoir Israel.
Stats Don't Lie: France owned the paint, outscoring the Israelis inside 42-24.
Game Hero: Alexis Ajinca took personal charge from the outset, individually compiling a burst of ten straight points that took the French ahead for good in the opening quarter. Such punishment was a peek ahead.

Alexis Ajinca (France)
Alexis Ajinca was untouchable inside for France, scoring 13 points in 17 minutes

France provided one highlight after another on Friday as they swept past Israel 82-63 in Ljubljana with an emphatic, and sometimes, exhilarating display.

Alexis Ajinca had a game-high 13 points but such was the dominance of Les Bleus that coach Vincent Collet was handed the luxury of giving his entire roster a workout, preparation perhaps for when they might be called upon during what he hopes will be a concerted push for this title.

In command from the opening minutes, a three-pointer from Tony Parker gave his side a 38-29 lead at half-time and it was duly extended to as much as 22 in the third period amid a flurry of dunks and fast breaks.

Israel, without a win in three games, sit on the verge of elimination. The French have their own destiny back in their own hands and they know what they must do to flourish.

"The key was to put the ball inside where our domination was obvious," Collet said. "They were smart to hide this weakness but you must use this, around the post-up situation. Every time we did it, easier things came.

"Unfortunately for a while in the second half, we forgot to do it. For a while we played too much with the dribble and that's when they came back. When we started to go inside, we found good situations."

The Israelis felt that pain early. They never recovered as the 2011 runners-up ran wild in the paint, shooting 62% from two-point range, and maintaining their rhythm even as Collet looked to his bench.

Their biggest advantage arrived when Nicolas Batum threw down an alley-oop when Nando de Colo threw up an invitation, sending their side 61-39 ahead with 1:52 left in the third quarter.

And although Israel, headed by 14 points each from Omri Casspi and Lior Eliyahu, made a concerted push in the fourth, it was too little too late. Still, with three defeats, their hopes are not yet extinguished.

"The last European championships we started 0-3." said Israel coach Arik Shivek. "We lost to Germany, with Dirk Nowitzki, we lost to France. And we lost to Serbia on the buzzer. We won our last two games against Italy and Latvia which meant nothing for us except position, so we could come 13th.

"Here, we are - 0-3 but we still have two games and if we win them, we can do something no-one believed we could after our first two losses. So the next 80 minutes, we hope, will see us make it. We're ready mentally for these two games."

 

 

 


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