France fell to Brazil 63-65 in their first pool game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup this afternoon. Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers and Boris Diaw of the San Antonio Spurs were called upon to lead the French team, and did so with measurable effectiveness, but limited success.
Though Batum played a team-high 35 minutes (five short of a full game in international play), he did not play exceptionally well on the offensive end. His outside shots were not falling and his passes were just sloppy enough to be frustratingly familiar. He did, however, score well inside; making his jumpers and alternatively getting to the free throw line.
This was far from a disgraceful loss from the French team. They played Brazil close and could have just as easily walked away with a narrow victory instead of a narrow defeat. Take a look at the shooting.
3-point Field Goals
It was difficult for the French team to prevent the Brazilian guards from shooting a high volume, because Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter, and Nene Hilario demanded so much attention in the frontcourt. France played more efficiently, but struggled with pace and ultimately fell behind due to defensive lapses.
This loss will be good for them moving forward. They know what they need to work on and they have a healthy impression of vulnerability. Look for Batum to resume a leadership role against Serbia tomorrow; perhaps with a little added conviction.
French Team Leaders
Boris Diaw: 15 pts, 6 rbs, 5 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 TOs
Nicolas Batum: 13 pts, 5 rbs, 1 ast, 1 blk, 4 TOs
Brazilian Team Leaders
Marcelinho Huertas: 16 pts, 2 rbs, 5 ast, 1 stl, 1 TO
Anderson Varejao: 8 pts, 9 rbs, 1 stl, 1 blk, 1 TO