01 - 18
September 2022
4 Thomas Heurtel (FRA)
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The golden link: 2013 winner Heurtel dreams of another title with Les Bleus

BERLIN (Germany) - Thomas Heurtel is just one win away from becoming a two-time FIBA EuroBasket winner with France having played a key role for the team in this year's tournament.

The 33-year-old is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 assists per game from the bench having previously been part of the last French squad that won the competition in 2013 - albeit in a different role with limited playing time behind MVP Tony Parker.

Heurtel remains focused on the main prize after France cruised into another Final with an emphatic 95-54 success against Poland in Friday's Semi-Finals.

"We're not celebrating yet. We achieved our first goal which was to be in the Final, but our primary goal is still one win away.

"It was an easy night for us after the last two games we had. Everyone enjoyed it and it was really nice. We played great defense but our offense was really good, too, as we shared the ball really well. There's one more game, we have our goal and we will see what happens."

Heurtel is a player for the big occasion and for the big moments. Just as he proved earlier in the tournament. 

With France seeing their EuroBasket hopes hanging in the balance for the second game in a row in the Quarter-Finals against Italy, up stepped Heurtel with a fearless drive to the basket to ultimately force overtime in their eventual 93-85 triumph - finishing with 20 points and 8 assists.

"At the end of that game, our main guy on offense Evan Fournier was on the bench with five fouls, so I took the responsibility and people who know me know that I'm not scared of that," he said.

"My role on the team is to organise the team. I have a specific role coming off the bench. I come on to be a creator and make plays. It worked pretty well in Tokyo last year and up until now so I am satisfied with my role and I think the rest of the team too."

Guerschon Yabusele added: "If you know Thomas Heurtel, you know this is the sort of play he makes. We were waiting for him to do that and he did it great, he helped us so much at a crucial time. He was just great, he took over the game and it was a great performance by him that helped us get the win."

Heurtel is capable of making those shots when called upon, but is also thriving upon the responsibility of orchestrating the offense and finding his teammates.

The experienced playmaker ranks fourth in the tournament in assists per game and his tally of 54 is seven behind the record of Sergio Rodriguez (61) for most assists off the bench in a EuroBasket tournament. 

"He is amazing. He's a big part of what we do and we are going to need him one more time." - Rudy Gobert on Heurtel's impact.

Five years ago, France fell comfortably short of expectations with a poor showing at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 which ended with a Round of 16 defeat to Germany. A surprising result that Heurtel and co wanted to put right in this tournament.

"We came here with a good mentality. This EuroBasket is one of the toughest there has been. We didn't forget [about 2017]. It was difficult for us and we wanted to make sure we didn't make the same mistakes."

Another medal added to the tally after bronze medals at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014 and 2019 as well as FIBA EuroBasket 2015 before silver at the Tokyo Olympics. But France are determined to ensure the color will be gold this time around.