Les Bleues want to erase the bad memory of last year

“Forced wins. » This is how the official website of the FFBB presents the two games of the EuroBasket 2023 qualifying round (June 15-25 in Israel and Slovenia). Logically these two internationals, against Finland this Thursday in Saint-Chamond, then against Ukraine in Roanne on Sunday, should be a simple formality for the tricolors. Top spot in this qualifier’s group is essential to avoid almost any scares, as only the top four are in the hunt for the second round.

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Les Bleues, quarter-finalists of the last World Cup held in Australia, did not forget that the beginning of the qualifying round ended with an embarrassing defeat against Ukraine (90-71) in November 2021. surely he would dream of better.

“Don’t look down on them”

A year after a difficult start and with eight of the twelve Globalists available for this window, France is looking to show a completely different face. “We want to perpetuate this will and move forwardthe French coach explains. This summer we will be on the continuation of what we are trying to put in place. We want to rely on our defense and rebounding game. »

While he will not be able to rely on the still-recovering Sandrine Grud nor Australia’s top Frenchwoman Gabby Williams, who was an early-season reserve, Toupane marks the return of back-rower Johannes, who injured his right thigh three days ago. The start of the World Cup and winger Valeriane Vukosavljevic, who gave up for family reasons. “We’re all on the same wavelength”, launched a spontaneous Marine Johannes during the pre-match press briefing. The same speech performed in Prague and on the part of Valeriane Vukosavljević, the happy mother of little Alan: “We have no right to make mistakes anymore. »

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In all competitions since 1987, fouls against non-participating Finns are prohibited. “I’m sure, but we’re not going to take them high, Mancelle has Iliana keep Rupert for this meeting. We have grown since last year. The group knows each other better, we have better automation, it will be more fluid. »

Awak Kuier, the future of Finland

Susijengi, led by the experienced Sami Lehtoranta (77 caps), have yet to find the slightest bit of success in these qualifiers and are undeniably lagging behind in development. Their male counterparts reached the quarter-finals at the last EuroBasket. A historic performance for a country on the rise in European basketball. However, young Finnish bull Awak Kuier will be interesting to watch. The 21-year-old winger just finished her second season in the WNBA with the Dallas Wings and is off to a good start with Venice in the European Cup (12.5 points, 5 rebounds).

Awak Kuier is the future of Finnish basketball. | PHOTO: FIBA

A figure to finish? 50. This is the huge margin that Les Bleues won (90-40) in Brest in February 2018, then coached by Valérie Garnier. Outside the ground at the Saint-Étienne Métropole arena, this France v Finland will be a dress rehearsal for the Leaders Cup, a mid-season tournament that brings together the eight best Betclic Elite teams from the first leg (February 17-19). 2023).

Group: Astier, Badiane, Chartereau, Chery, Ciak, Fauthoux, Hériaud, Johannes, Michel, Salaun, Touré, Vukosavljevic. None: Lacan, Malonga and Rupert (maintained).

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