After France’s squad was defeated in the final of the European Championship on Sunday, the country’s head coach takes some time to reflect.
How can one make sense of this loss?
Vincent Collet: We were aware that the number of bullets lost was crucial. We gave up 35 points on these, and they only lost 7 balls (Editor’s note: the Blues had 19 ball losses to the Vikings’ 9). The issue that plagued the entire tournament was ultimately our downfall. We were victorious in our matches against Turkey and Italy, but if we hadn’t recovered those lost balls, we might not have. When they play Spain, though, they don’t end up losing. The tale can’t be fully understood by looking at the raw numbers. There are several fundamental flaws in our game, namely in our passing and clearing, as well as in our defense against their aggression.
Additionally, there were some difficulties in actually getting into the game…
We learned the importance of accuracy, and we also refrained from playing defense in an overly aggressive manner to compensate. It took us 17 minutes to start applying serious pressure on the defensive end. We did not equip ourselves with the tools necessary to affect the game. We were so preoccupied with what was at stake in the championship match that it took us fifteen minutes to finally be able to break free of our preoccupation. We moved closer together, but each time, something dumb, or often two stupid things, held us back. It was a bit like climbing Sisyphus’ rock; after each ascent, you were required to pay a penalty for the previous one. We did not give up till the very end. Even though the boys wanted it, wanting it alone is not enough to win a championship game against Spain. You must also win with your intellect to succeed.
Check out this related article on basketball for more: sad money and a Spanish lesson with a sour aftertaste for the overmatched Blues.
We came across a great team.
Because of their mastery?
Even in trying circumstances, such as when they take 20-2 in our favor while we are straddling both halves, they do not become panicked. They complete three passes every possession, which allows them to find open shots and take advantage of those opportunities. A fantastic group was brought to our attention. This is Spain, a school that plays basketball. Not just (the brothers) Gasol and (Juan Carlos) Navarro are responsible for this. And at the level that Juancho Hernangomez was playing at tonight (27 points, 7 for 9 at the three-point line, editor’s note), he replaced at least one of the two Gasol brothers… They have players like (Dario) Brizuela and (Jaime) Fernandez who are good players, and the quality of competition in their tournament is around average. Although perhaps not on the same level as their predecessors, they are nonetheless very good players. When you open the game behind by 20 points against a squad of this caliber, you know things are going to get difficult quickly.