Organized basketball made a glorious return this month, culminating when France beat Lithuania in the Eurobasket title game. Here are a few thoughts inspired by the game. It is often claimed that the sole advantaged claimed by foreign competition over the United States is increased familiarity bred through practice and experience. In this game, that advantage was hardly apparent. Both teams struggled to execute consistently. Members of theFrench team often cut towards the same side as the pick and roll action, only to later realize the need to clear that side of the court. Perhaps this game was an aberration, but I would have expected a higher level of execution, both offensively and defensively, from such talented rosters in this high magnitude game.
On another note, Tony Parker is incredible. Though this was not an especially spectacular performance, Parker, though shorter in stature, stood above the competition. Parker’s (and Boris Diaw’s) emotional victory after the Final’s loss provided a nice emotional contrast. Nicolas Batum seemed ecstatic post victory, while Parker was as resolutely mechanical as ever.
Also interesting was seeing Boris Diaw in more of a scoring role. Though the luxuries of life have robbed him of his mobility, Diaw seemed relatively nimble with an without the ball, and effectively found, created, and finished hooks and layups in the lane and open jumpshots from inside and beyond the international arc.
To my inexperience eyes, this game did not seem especially dissimilar from many NBA games, despite the contrary prevailing thought. Apart from decreased athleticism, both teams relied on many of the same actions; center and side pick and rolls, horns sets, corner threes.
Coach Nick of BBall Breakdown, of whom I have often been critical, published a worthwhile video analysis of France’s semifinal game.