While Japan (89-56) and Australia (118-58) had crushed the Malians, the weakest rival in this group A, theEs Bleues was content with a narrow victory and was threatened almost until the end (8 pts advantage five minutes from the end). This narrow success revives the players of Jean-Aimé Toupane who, with two wins for a loss in group A, could earn his ticket in case of victory against Japan on Monday (08:00 French time), depending on the results of Australia. -Serbia and Japan-Canada later in the day on Sunday. But if every match has its story, they will probably have to show more consistency for 40 minutes and avoid experiencing such a wake-up call against the Japanese, who had blocked their way to the final just over a year ago at the Tokyo Olympics.
Regardless of the result, the Olympic bronze medalists wanted to calm down in the game, after having made a pale copy against the Canadians on Friday, dominated in the offensive rebound, struggling to circulate to stand out and move the ball. It took almost a period for them to find their rhythm, notably delivering a listless first quarter on defense, at the end of which they were down 21-17. After losing a whopping 8 offensive rebounds, including three straight d’s in the 6th minute to earn a basket (9-13), and lost five balls.
Rupert is gaining momentum
Jean-Aimé Toupane’s players ended up raising the bar, putting more aggressiveness in defense and finding more solutions in attack to conclude the first half (42-32) inflicting a 14 to 3 – on the Malians who were undoubtedly a bit physically dull – thanks in particular to Migna Touré (4 pts), Iliana Rupert (6 pts) and Marine Fauthoux’s return to the lead (2 pts). But despite a 14-point lead in the third quarter on two occasions (46-32 and 57-43), they were unable to beat the Malians until late in the match.
Individually, in a game where Toupane had a lot of rotation ahead of the last two games of the group stage and then the possible final stage, he was able to count on the contribution of winger Gabby Williams (14 pts, 7 rebounds and 6 assists). Fauthoux was also beautiful, in defense (3 interceptions) and in attack (8 pts), as well as inside player Alexia Chartereau (12 pts in 19 minutes). Although she still has some splurges, Iliana Rupert, still on the inside, has gained momentum (8 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks) after arriving only Wednesday after winning the WNBA title with the Las Vegas Aces.