Mateusz Ponetka predicted that. “A week ago, I announced that every tournament has a Cinderella. And here we are: we are Cinderella today.”The captain of the Polish basketball team smiles. In French, we refer more to another story, but it seems difficult to talk about Petit Bouquet about a player who measures 1.98 meters.
However, Poland is the fairy tale of European basketball, since Bonnetka was omnipresent (26 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) and his teammates fell from their thrones, Wednesday, September 14, Slovenes, cup holders (90-87) ). The “bialo-czerwoni” (“White and Red,” in Polish) The French men’s basketball team will face off on Friday, September 16 (5:15 p.m., at W9 and Canal + 360) for a place in the final.
Poland’s victory in the quarter-finals had the effect of an earthquake, especially because it sent Slovenian Luka Doncic to the “Giant” cemetery, where he joined the other two Serbs in the tournament, the Serbian Nikola Djokic and the Greek. Giannis Anticonmo. If the three NBA (North American Basketball League) superstars put in a superb performance in the continental championship, their teams chipped their teeth over more experienced opponents in European matches.
The Poles were convinced that they could do it. “No team qualified for the semi-finals by chance. Before the tournament, they were all contenders for the podium, including our team, Coach Igor Milicic insists. Few people believed in us, but we did, and the four best teams in Europe qualified for the semi-finals. » Or Poland, France, Germany and Spain.
Since the start of the continental competition, the level of the competing teams has been highlighted by many players and coaches, and Poland embodies this very intense competition. “It’s a very strong Euro, because the liquidators remain very strong teams”, notes Vincent Colette. The coach of the French national team had made Serbia the first candidate among the “Six or seven teams are able to move forward”. He added Poles to the list, praising them ‘A great defensive net’ against Slovenia.
“Give credibility to Poland. Most of them considered us as favourites, but Poland has a great team, like Belgium in the previous round.For his part, he crushed Luka Doncic after eliminating his family, rather than talking about a poor performance by his team. “It is not enough to be a favourite on paper, Vincent Colette continues. Of the quadrants, the aspect of sublimation is very important. » Against the Italians who won the previous round of Serbia, the Blues came close to being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
The four teams still competing in the competition have one thing in common: They depend on a group, often refined over time. “These are first and foremost the teams that still exist. Fortunately, basketball remains a team sport, and [c’est] even more [vrai] in international basketball, Vincent Colette notes. Following the example of the Spanish multi-medalist Sergio Scarillo, “The best for fifteen years in all that is collective expression”, According to the French technician.
“Team with Capital E”
“We don’t have an NBA player, nor a Euroleague player [compétition privée et semi-fermée rassemblant 18 clubs européens]And the But a team with a capital EFrench-Polish Aaron Sell insisted, beaming, after Poland’s win on Wednesday. We know that every player can help the other. We’ve been building this automation since 2014 [avec l’ancien coach, Mike Taylor]which created osmosis, a collective state of mind. We changed the coach a year ago, and he added his tactical dimension. » The Slovenes are particularly stuck in the Polish defence.
While many observers had expected a “reshape” of the Tokyo Olympics semi-finals between France and Slovenia (the victory of the French over a counter-attack in the last seconds), it is Poland, therefore, that stands on De Blius’ path for a place at the end. And they don’t take the task lightly.
“The question whether the planets align with us is a lack of respect for our opponents, Captain Evan Fournier warns. These teams played matches very well, they really controlled it. We face the teams that won and it is not said that matches are easier for us because we avoid them [la Serbie ou la Slovénie] ».
France knows its margin is slim. Against Turkey, then against Italy, she almost knew the hard way. “There is fierce competition, Vincent Colette summarizes. The way we went through shows that our opponents could be where we are. »
On Friday evening, the Blues will do their best to force Polish Cinderella home an hour before the final blows.
Poland and FranceFriday, September 16 (5:15 p.m., at W9 and Canal + 360), and live commentary on Le Monde.