Rudy Gobert and his France teammates showed great resilience to outlast gold medal favourites, United States, and win their opening match at the basketball event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Three of France’s starting five were NBA stars – Nicolas Batum of the LA Clippers, Boston Celtics’ Evan Fournier and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert of the Utah Jazz. USA on their part started with a strong line-up comprising Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo and Zach Levine.
France raced to a 5-2 lead early on though sharp shooting from Lillard saw the Americans take the lead on their way to ending the first quarter with a seven-point advantage at 22-15.
Again, France raced off the blocks to start the second quarter, scoring the first four points in it before the Americans yet again rallied to keep their European counterparts at bay and enter half-time with a 45-37 lead.
The French would finally tie the game at 52 points apiece towards the end of the third quarter before taking the lead for the first time since the start of the match thanks to a three-point shot made by Nando De Colo.
De Colo extended France’s advantage to three points a minute later and Gobert put in a strong shift as the Europeans ended the third quarter with a six-point lead with scores at 62-56.
Aiming to avoid a first defeat at the Olympics since 2004, USA rallied at the start of the fourth quarter to retake the lead. But France proved to stubborn for Gregg Popovich’s men as they held off a brief late charge to claim a historic win over the Americans with the score board reading 83-76 at full time.