Vincent Collet, Rudy Gobert, Thomas Heurtel… The reactions of some of the players in the box against Italy on Tuesday evening, in Montpellier (100-68).
Thomas Heurtel (leader of the French team, after the card against Italy on Tuesday evening) : «Good game from us. We set the pace from the start. It reflects our work during these few days in Montpellier. We had worked hard and it showed from the first minute. We were lucky to have a big gap at the end, which allowed us to rest some and give minutes to others. But everyone brought. It was a good match, both for us and for the public. (his match) Creating the game for others, that’s what I’m asked to do, and it went well tonight. They put in, I was able to find my teammates and they found me too. I had more rhythm than in the first two matches. After two months of vacation, it’s starting to come back. (…) Defense ? This is what we want to show the general public and the other teams: we come to the Euros to play this basketball, put a lot of pressure on the ball, relaunch. As much for the public as for us, it will be positive.»
Vincent Collet (coach) : «In attack, we wanted to have more fluidity, to accelerate the ball more, with more transfers and speed in our decision-making which had been much too slow in Bologna. There are still sequences where it falls, defensively or offensively. But overall there is a marked improvement. We have to keep our feet on the ground compared to our opponent who was less efficient than Friday, less intense. We must consider this as an event and continue to have the same determination to progress together. Our future depends on it. We are on the way. We have to keep improving to be ready for the day when we face a stronger team. And it could be Italy for that matter…
Thomas (Heurtel) made a brilliant match in the choices.
The main improvement is in the attacking game. We were often stopped and we lacked this continuity before. It was much better. Belgium on Thursday? My wish is to keep our attitude because it is part of our identity. We want to be perceived as this type of team. We lost players along the way but we want our identity to be easily recognizable and our opponents to ask questions about that. You have to continue to be in the same state of mind, the same DNA, get into the game strong and impose the strongest possible pressure, in continuity. We did pretty well tonight but it can still be improved. (…) Thomas (Heurtel) made a brilliant match in the choices. The difficulties of Amath M’Baye? It could happen. Elie (Okobo) continues to play fair. Terry Tarpey? He clearly scored points.»
Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (winger) : «The objective was to continue to grow, to evolve, to show our identity, to continue to build automatisms between each other as well. Perfect match? No, we made a lot of mistakes, we missed a lot of shots, we lost balls, we left offensive rebounds… There are still a lot of little things to improve. But I think we’re starting on a good basis and we’re only going to get better..»
If we defend hard for 40 minutes every game and play smart in attack, we know we will be in a position to be the best team in France that we can be.
Rudy Gobert (pivot) : «We work very hard. We did two very good training sessions to build up strength on both sides of the pitch. We feel that there is progress. We have very high goals. We know that Italy is a rather atypical team. We must be able to adapt to all opponents. We did very well tonight. Offensively? We moved the ball more on the raises in transition and on the placed game. We are starting to progress, to get along better and to know how to use our strengths. There is still work to do, we can still do a lot better but it is getting better and better. Work pays. (…) From a personal point of view, there are things I can do better. Collectively, there were little moments of relaxation which are normal but we have to make them even shorter and always keep our concentration in those moments. The margin of progress? We don’t want to set limits. We know that we want to be a defensive team first. If we defend hard for 40 minutes every game and play smart in attack, we know we will be in a position to be the best team in France that we can be. The atmosphere ? It’s fun. Me who plays in the United States, it’s nice to be able to play in front of the French fans, my family too. The French love basketball. It’s important that we can give them good basketball, even if it’s preparation matches, because they deserve it.»
Gerschon Yabusele (interior) : «Defense was the key, we went up a level. We watched the video since we arrived in Montpellier, we try to improve match after match. We passed the ball even better and we took the shots we missed in Italy. Inevitably, when you gain confidence like that, when you play in France, you immediately have the rhythm and you manage to make this kind of score. Thomas Heurtel? He was not bad, in legs, he launched us. The five got us started as a rule. The bench had a lot of energy too, they got the job done. This is how it works.»
Statements collected during a press conference and in the mixed zone