VILNIUS (EuroBasket) – France’s win over Lithuania on Friday night shows that not only are France one of the top teams in EuroBasket this year but should they go on, they will also be amongst the favorites in London.
Despite starting forward Mickael Gelebale having to join Ronny Turiaf in street clothes on the bench on Friday night, the French were still able to get up to win 73-67 and in doing so show their depth with Nando De Colo showing why he may soon be joining Tony Parker at the San Antonio Spurs.
While Lithuanian Head Coach Kestutis Kemzura had been able to set relatively effective defensive patterns to neutralize Nicholas Batum, Boris Diaw and Joakim Noah, he had perhaps not been prepared for 24-year-old guard De Colo to enter the game from the bench, and overshadow Parker on the way to finishing the night with five steals and a game-high 21 points.
“We did a good job on their leaders but the x-factor was Nando de Colo in the 4th quarter. He just hurt us. We couldn’t stop him”, Kemzura told reporters after the tournament.
Kemzura could be forgiven for overlooking De Colo going into the match with the 24-year-old guard having scored a total of 13 points in his first six games of the tournament.
“Tonight I had the opportunity to play my game and I had more time on the court so I did it”, De Colo told reporters following the match.
Prior to the tournament, suggestion had been that with Tony Parker playing over 30 minutes a game at point guard with Andrew Albicy picking up the remaining minutes, De Colo would be seeing limited court time. However De Colo has kept himself in the picture by instead showing himself to be a shooting guard with the move finally appearing to be working.
Given the way that France are playing, Sunday’s match against Spain may well be viewed in some quarters as a curtain raiser for the tournament final and also be a display of two teams still involved at the business end in London.
The game against Spain will be the real test now for De Colo with little chance of him being able to slip under the radar in similar fashion to what he did on Friday night. Should he put in a similar performance then Spain may well be about to meet their first real challenge of the second round.