Star-studded France couldn’t get off the ground against a determined Serbian squad that shot 50% from the field to France’s 39%, and France fell 77-65. Nicolas Batum tallied 12 points but needed 12 shots to do it, hitting just 4. He also had 7 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks, a steal, and a turnover in 34 minutes.
Those wanting to see more of the aggressive Batum that notched 19, 10 and 6 last game were probably left wanting, exemplified by his play of the game: after he was stopped trying to slash to the middle, he was forced into a fading overhead assist to the cutting Boris Diaw at the rim. Was it a nice pass? Sure. Was it what he wanted him to do? No. And while adapting to what the defense gives you is nice, Batum is at his best when he’s more aggressive. I would liked to have seen him use Diaw’s pick better off the curl and kept curling through the key to the rim. Batum has the speed and the length to have pulled it off, but he saw Serbia’s Nemanja Bjelica in the paint and bailed it out to Diaw instead.
France starters Diaw and Alexis Ajinca joined Batum with 12 points, while Tony Parker had 10 and tallied 6 assists.
Serbia’s Nenad Krstic went for 18, 4 and 4 while hitting half his shots. He takes today’s game ball. Krstic was aggressive all night, and showed some NBA-level speed and footwork on a play where he caught the ball outside the left block, hesitated, and spun around his man baseline to draw the foul on a two-handed jam.
There was one play that summed up the whole game pretty well. With time running out at the end of the third, Krstic missed a three off the back of the rim, and Bjelica outmaneuvered Diaw to grab the offensive rebound and flip in a running shot at the horn. That shot put Serbia up 9. France could only manage to get within 7 with three minutes left in the fourth before fading down the stretch.
Group E’s Serbia and France will play their next game on Wednesday. Serbia’s first-place finish in their group will pit them against the fourth-place finisher of Group F, while France’s third-place finish will pair them with Group F’s second-place finisher.