After four consecutive losses in the final, the French basketball players seem armed to turn money into gold at Euro 2021, which begins on Thursday, and gain confidence in the quest for an Olympic podium a month later in Tokyo. "I have the firm conviction that we have the most talented French team in all playing positions," launches Sandrine Gruda straight away, interior who became at almost 34 years the best scorer in the history of Blue during preparation. Enough to place France at the forefront of favorites for European gold in ten days in Valencia, Spain, where the semi-finals and the final will take place.
In everyone's mind, the title is obviously present, while it has escaped the French since 2009 and in particular these four consecutive finals lost against Spain (2013, 2017, 2019) and Serbia (2015). The coronation, the third in the history of the Blue, would fall twenty years after the first in 2001 at home.
“We aim to get the gold medal.
Everyone is a little fed up with leaving with the color of the medal which was not necessarily desired ”, displays very clearly the leader of Bourges Alix Duchet, present at the 2018 World Cup in Spain (5th place).
But before thinking of Valencia and gold, we will first have to pass the first round, played against Croatia (Thursday), the Czech Republic (Friday) and Russia (Sunday) at the Rhénus de Strasbourg, which will be able to accommodate up to 3,600 spectators.
Perilous Euro-JO sequence
“The last competition dates from the TQO, we spent a whole season without an audience. These two points motivate us and we can not wait for it to start, ”explains the young inside of the Bleues Iliana Rupert, who at only 19 years old is already playing her third competition after Euro-2019 and the Olympic qualifying tournament in Bourges. in February 2020.
After this long and unusual break, it's a hell of a challenge that awaits Endy Miyem's teammates: two major tournaments in the space of seven and a half weeks, traffic jam due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the postponement of a year of the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-August 8) and the maintenance of Euro-2021 on the dates initially planned (June 17-27). The health situation also continues to have an impact on the preparation of the selections. Thus Spain has recorded two positive cases, including one of its best players, Alba Torrens, asymptomatic and placed in isolation since Saturday.
So far, the French have been spared and the signals are all clearly on the green before starting the competition: the Blue have won their six preparation matches (including two at the start against Spain, far from being complete) , the integration of Gabby Williams went perfectly, and the game seems well oiled in a collective that is starting to have experience together.
“We also know that we are immune to nothing for tomorrow.
The preparation went rather well, but this is not the reality of the competition.
You have to be as vigilant as possible, ”warns coach Valérie Garnier, however delighted to see her team ready.
She used the sporting metaphor to separate the two major competitions to come: the Euro corresponds to the first half, and the Olympics to the second, with players fully focused on the European Championship.
Valérie Garnier also recalls that this Euro will be a source of motivation for the sixteen selections, since it will deliver the six European tickets for the qualifications for the next World Cup, scheduled in Australia in the fall of 2022.