French party into gold medal final against US
LONDON, Aug 10 — France may be realistic about their chances of overhauling the masters of women's basketball heading into a gold medal final against the United States, but they are looking to ride their wave of success for all it's worth.
The party atmosphere in the French squad erupted even before the buzzer sounded in their semi-final victory over Russia, laughing and beaming at each other as they ran down the clock.
“Four minutes from the end of the game we were like 'we know we are going to win' - it was a very good feeling. It was historic,” said France's Sandrine Gruda of their 81-64 victory.
That sentiment is testament to the huge landmark the team, ranked eighth in the world, have already achieved by securing at least a silver, though they face a U.S. team who are undefeated in 40 Olympic games in a streak stretching back 20 years.
“The United States built the game, they can play the game better than anyone else in the world ... they cannot be beaten, they're invincible,” said France's coach Pierre Vincent.
“In a way, saying that is an advantage for us because we're coming into the game with zero pressure.
“We are ambitious, we want to play a good game and sometimes you come out better than you thought.”
The US team reached the final by overcoming their closest rivals Australia, fighting off a strong challenge to put themselves one win away from their fifth consecutive gold medal.
But, even though the French team know they are up against the best in the world they have little intention of changing their gameplan from the one that comfortably saw off Russia and know their best chance is to keep the party spirit alive.
“We will do our best. We will try to do the same thing as we do here. Which means having fun together,” said France centre Isabelle Yacoubou. — Reuters