Australia seeks to bag historic bronze against powerful France
Players of Australia's national basketball team react after losing to Spain in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 semifinal in Beijing, China, Sept. 13, 2019. EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Players of France's national basketball team react after losing to Argentina in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 semifinal in Beijing, China, Sept. 13, 2019. EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Beijing, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- The national men's basketball teams of Australia and France are set to put up a tenacious fight over the weekend as the two countries vie for the coveted bronze medal in the FIBA World Cup being held in China.
The Oceanic team, which lost its semifinal bout to Spain 95-88 after a heart-stopping double overtime, will seek to triumph in Sunday's fixture over a very strong France that was nonetheless outplayed 80-66 by Argentina in its bid to reach the final.
It would be Australia's first-ever bronze if it wins and its best-ever ranking in the tournament even if it loses, while the match will mark France's second attempt to take home a bronze since 2014.
This face-off for third place in the international tourney will be the second time they meet in China following their duel on Sept. 9 in Nanjing, where Australia beat France by just two points for an end result of 100-98.
In their previous head-to-head, Australia's point guard Patty Mills and France's shooting guard Evan Fournier topped the scoring stats with 30 and 31 points, respectively.
Fournier and Mills are two of the players to watch out for in the upcoming clash, along with Aussies Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova and Frenchmen Rudy Gobert and Nando de Colo.
The French team, led by head coach Vincent Collet, has the tournament's best numbers when it comes to field goals and shooting from the three-point range, thanks to Gobert's and Vincent Poirier's reliable accuracy.
On the other hand, the Australian side – spearheaded by coach Andrej Lemanis – have so far averaged 89.7 points against France's 86.
After Friday's disappointment in the semifinals – in Australia's case, with two grueling time extensions – both teams will be fighting with all they've got to clinch the bronze.
The match will be played on Sunday at Beijing's Wukesong Stadium – a venue that also hosted basketball matches during the 2008 Summer Olympics in the Chinese capital – at 4 pm local time. EFE-EPA