It couldn't have started off worse.
The French basketball players, contenders for an Olympic podium, started their tournament badly with a conceded defeat against Japan (70-74), in the Super Arena of Saitama.
This setback is more than unwelcome for the Blue, who inherited at the Olympics a group B raised in the first round, with other opponents the Nigerians and the big American favorites in search of a seventh consecutive gold medal.
To the immense frustration of the silver medal at Euro 2021, resulting from a defeat in the final against Serbia, is therefore added two weeks later a big disappointment for the French women, who clearly did not have managed to turn the page.
The full Olympic program
The Olympic medal table
Faced with catchy Japanese, playing fast basketball and often fair in their collective animation, the players of Valérie Garnier had a hard time defending well throughout the meeting. And it was a three-point shot by Moeko Nagaoka (11 pts), thirty seconds from the end, which proved fatal, illustrating a fairly good overall long-distance address (11/27) of the local players. Just before, captain Maki Takada (10 pts) had also managed a decisive three-point action, obtaining the fault after a basket in penetration. His six points erased the good final sprint of the Blue, who took the water at the start of the third quarter, with a terrible 13-2 conceded, before Sandrine Gruda kept them alive with eight points scored (18 in total) to re-glue at three lengths (52-49).
The pivot was the only one to float in the racket, where the French women did not take enough advantage of their size superiority. In this match, the Japanese legs were the most effective. Silver medalist in London 2012, 4th in Rio in 2016, France will have to show a completely different face against the Nigerians on Saturday, because then the untouchable Americans will rise. The space was considerably reduced to reach the quarter-finals after this setback.