France stifled Serbia 81-68 on Sunday to sign off EuroBasket 2015 by capturing the bronze medal in recognition of the amazing support they received from their faithful fans at Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille.
Turning Point: After falling behind for the last time in the game, 28-27 late in the second quarter, France turned to a big line-up with Nando De Colo as the only guard and used a 10-0 run which Rudy Gobert capped-off with a tip-in 1:32 from half-time to put the hosts up front 37-28. Milos Teodosic was fouled on a three-point attempt 6:01 from the end of the third frame and made all three free-throws to reduce the gap to 44-39 but France kept Serbia scoreless for four minutes and went on a 9-0 run that stretched their lead to 53-39 with 2:18 remaining to the end of the period.
Stats Don't Lie: Serbia finished with 17 assists which might not be far below the 23.8 assists they averaged prior to Sunday's game, but amassed only 10 assists up until early in the fourth quarter, by which point France had already solidified their lead. France, who corralled 16 offensive rebounds on the night, gained the upper hand once and for all in the crucial final stretch of the second quarter as they scored eight second-chance points taking advantage of Serbia's inability to box-out effectively.
Game Hero: Evan Fournier came on approximately three minutes before the end of the opening quarter and failed to make an impact, but coach Vincent Collet kept trusting him whenever he wanted to rest Tony Parker and the superb-on-Sunday Nando De Colo. The young guard proved worthy of the trust as in his last 17 minutes on the floor he went 3-of-3 from three-point range, added five rebounds and two assists and finished with a senior international career-high 15 points.
Bottom Line: France's dream to defend their EuroBasket 2013 title had ended on Thursday night when they fell to Spain in the semi-final, but nobody would know it from the love and affection with which fans in Lille treated their players in the days leading up to Sunday's game. The desire of the French players to give something back played an enormous role in the conquest of a fourth EuroBasket medal for Les Bleus in the modern era, all within the past decade. Both France and Serbia have secured a berth in next summer's Olympic Qualification Tournament.
They Said: "We were very disappointed and frustrated after Thursday's game but in life you always have the choice of what your reaction can be. Sometimes you fall down and the important thing is how you bounce back" - France head coach Vincent Collet.