France overcome sluggish start to see off Iran
JAKARTA (Indonesia) - France overcame a slow start as they eventually cruised to their second win of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in beating Iran, 82-55.
This win gave France one rare bright spot in an otherwise gloomy campaign in Jakarta having failed to progress to the main table after a preliminary round for the first time in the FIBA World Cup since 1986.
The turning point: Team Melli took advantage of yet another listless start by the French. Iran led after the first quarter, 12-9, and trailed by single digits at the half, 35-27. Les Bleus, however, woke up in the third quarter. They started the second half on a 7-0 run that gave them a 15-point lead, which they would never relinquish.
TCL Player of the Game: Rudy Gobert hasn't been at his best in this tournament in Jakarta, but looked more like himself with a near-double-double and going 4-of-6 from the field. Gobert also now has a total of 30 blocks in his World Cup career, putting him 4th overall right behind Yao Ming and the Gasol brothers.
Stats don't lie: France's bench came up big in this game - outscoring Iran's second unit, 40-36. However, more importantly, coach Vincent Collet's reserves played with more urgency and purpose. Elie Okobo, Sylvain Francisco, Yakuba Ouattara and Mosutapha Fall all had their moments in this game with those four players alone shot 14-of-19 from the field (73.7 percent).
Bottom Line: France still didn't look like the title contenders they were billed to be. However, they at least gained their second victory, which should buoy their spirits as they close their forgettable campaign against Cote d'Ivoire on Saturday. Iran, meanwhile, remain winless after four tries and will try to finally break into the win column against Lebanon, also on Saturday.
They said: "Congratulations to France. I think they came out much stronger here against us. Playing back-to-back against Spain and France was not easy today. Especially in the 2nd half, we did not play good anymore, and they won the game." - Iran guard Behnam Yakhchali
"After the Spain game, we did not get much rest then played France. They rested more than us, and they came out strong. We also could not use Haddadi in this game. They were also better defensively and offensively in the 2nd half. Also in crucial moments, our main guys stayed out of the game. Arsalan could not continue and Yakhchali was injured. Also, some guys did not show the performance we expected from them. We did not use our opportunities well, and we lost the game." - Iran coach Hakan Demir
"We needed to play as a team, win, show commitment and try to have a little bit of fun." - France guard Elie Okobo
"The most important was not only to win but to play and try to offer fun. I think we did it after the first quarter. Offensively, it was difficult in the first quarter with lack of confidence, but after a few minutes the young guys gave us energy, and we got the lead." - France coach Vincent Collet