France aim for even bigger things after another third-place campaign

Photo :|16-Sep-2019 18:14

BEIJING (China) - For the second straight World Cup, France finished  third, and that just makes them hungrier to bring home more valuable silverware in the future.

Les Bleus finished among the top three teams five years ago in Spain right behind champions USA and second-place Spain, and they duplicated that feat here in China, beating Australia in their final game to bring bronze medals home once more.

That's all well and good, of course, but the French knew this was one of the best opportunities to take the next step, and they've resolved to take everything they've learned here to improve in the next big tournament.

"We have a new group, and this experience helped us," said young guard Frank Ntilikina. "We can learn a lot from this. Going through every game, the group stage till here in the last game, it's gonna help us. Now we have to bring all we learned to the next competition."

That next competition is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where France have successfully qualified after finishing as the second-best European team at the World Cup. Nando De Colo also knows that because they have so many new players, their campaign here in China will make them ready for the challenges that await in Tokyo and beyond.

"For sure it's great for French basketball to have this second straight medal," De Colo said. "What we did this summer, it’s great because our group is really new. We have a lot of new players in the team, and we need to build on it. What we did in the past is great, too, but now we need to think about what we did this summer, how we work hard together, how we fight like a team and bring it for next summer."

France's star center, Rudy 'Stifle Tower' Gobert, completely agrees. Despite not having the best outing in the battle for third place, he still feels France have once again shown the world they are among the elite national teams, and he wants them to do even better in the future.

"We just had to finish strong because Australia did a great job," Gobert said. "They had a great competition, but we did, too. Of course, we want to play even better in the next tournament, which is the Olympics."

One guy who will likely be a key part of the French squad going forward is Evan Fournier, who was among the most explosive wingmen at the World Cup and earned a spot on the All-Star Five. Fournier appreciates the value of playing for the national team over the summer, and he believes the China experience will help them take the next step.

"This is a great tournament," Fournier said. "It's great basketball, and it's super intense. Of course, this will help us in everything we do, and we're going to learn from this and be a better team next year."