Wilson reviving FIBA EuroBasket 2017 memories as Finland take down France once again
ESPOO (Finland) - The clutch kings of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers played their 9th game in single digits, claiming a vital 76-69 win over France, much to the delight of the more than 7,900 spectators that packed Espoo Metro Arena on Thursday.
Finland could still advance from Group K, but need to win by three or more points in Russia on Sunday.
Jamar Wilson proved he has the antidote for France, knowing all about French basketball from his days with Rouen and Nanterre 92. The point guard played his best game of the Qualifiers, putting up 29 points in 30 minutes of work, hitting 9-of-17 from the field and 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
"Jamar Wilson kept us in the game with his personal skill," Finland forward Alexander Madsen said.
Coach Henrik Dettmann joined in on praising the 1.85m (6ft 1in) playmaker: "Jamar Wilson played big given he isn't very big. It was a tremendous game. He shows his passion for basketball and for playing for the Finnish flag. You can see how important it is in the way he comes out in the games. Wonderful performance."
Wilson not only led the scoring, but also dished out 6 assists and grabbed 3 rebounds, completing the all-round performance which kept the Susijengi alive. His moves kept the crowd on their feet all the way in Espoo.
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"They have an amazing crowd so they helped them to be on fire for a moment of the game," France guard Andrew Albicy said.
This is not the first time that Finland used Wilson's heroics to stun France. Back at the FIBA EuroBasket 2017, it was Wilson who made the layup to send the game to overtime, and the point guard came up big at the end of added period, making the game-winning layup, handing Finland an 86-84 win.
This time around, Wilson's performance means that Finland have a do-or-die game on Sunday. A win by 3+ points in the Russian city of Perm would send them through to the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Head coach Henrik Dettmann will turn his attention to that matchup immediately, but knows that none of this would've happened without the Susijengi faithful.
"Of course we're extremely happy. The coaches are extremely proud of the way the players came together. They really put it all together. I thought our defense was very good today. France had 21 turnovers. Even though we lost the rebounding battle, we were able to more or less stay in the game through our defense. Probably the most important thing of course again was our fans, their support is unbelievable. When you have fans like these, you can't play any way other than the way we played today," the playcaller said.
But Finland will feel the other side of the packed arena on Sunday. Russia will play host in Perm, with the arena already sold-out days before the tip-off, scheduled at 14:00 CET.