Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

Evan Fournier put on a 28-point show and led France to victory over Team USA in the first game of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Player of the Game
Rudy  Gobert
EFF
17
Rudy Gobert
Points 14
Accuracy 5-6
Rebounds 9
Assists 1

After the game, the hero of the French national team said that this Team USA could be beaten.

"I have a different role (compared to the NBA),” said Fournier. “The team wants me to score. I have to be more aggressive; I have to look for my shot. When I was in Boston, I was playing with JT (Jayson Tatum) and JB (Jaylen Brown) and all these guys, so it was just a different role.”

“Me being in that scoring mode, I have to be aggressive here, and as fellow NBA players, we have to show the way for the guys that are playing in Europe, how to play these guys. First of all, you have to compete with them. That's the message behind everything. 

We have to show these guys that we're not going to back down, and they are just like us. They are better individually, but they can be beaten as a team,” added Frenchman.

Fournier also got a lot of praise from his head coach Vincent Collet, who emphasized the importance of his guard.

"Evan was amazing,” Collet said. “I don't want to use big, big, big words, but he made some very big shots. To have that kind of performance, you need consistency, for sure. This is the most important (thing).”

“But you also need some players who can make shots nobody else can make. What was very important to me was that the team understood that and played for him. He made things by himself but also received help from teammates to put him in situations to do that. This is the way that we must keep going," Collet continued.

Evan Fournier

Evan  Fournier
Position: SG, SF
Age: 28
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Birth place: Saint-Maurice, France

Meanwhile, Gregg Popovich said that this France win shouldn’t be considered a surprise. Once again, the head coach of Team USA emphasized the improvement of international teams.

"People shouldn't be surprised that the French team or the Australian team or the Spanish team or the Lithuanian team (could beat us),” said Popovich. “It doesn't matter who it is - the gap in talent shrinks every year, as there are more and more great players all over the world. And you need to give the French team credit for playing well; they were more consistent than we were at both ends of the court. It's as simple as that."

Credit FIBA

One positive for the American team was Jrue Holiday. The newly crowned NBA champion was the top scorer finishing the game with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 20 PIR.

Popovich praised such a display and couldn’t find an explanation for such a performance.

"I'm not a doctor or a psychologist to explain it. He just did what he did. It's just a testament to his character and his competitiveness; he was great, he kept us in the game. And that's just who he is. So you gotta give him credit for that."

Holiday himself said that he just wanted to show his best qualities.

“I think it’s just competing, being competitive,” said Holiday. “This is the first time me being on the stage, so you always want to make an impression. I tried as hard as I can.”

The Milwaukee Bucks guard also admitted that he would need to adjust to the differences between the NBA and FIBA rules.

“There is a lot of differences. One is officiating, which is a little different. A lot of the calls (which) are made aren’t made here. It’s like a weird physicality, where you can’t be too physical.

I felt like Kevin (Durant) was doing a good job trying to be physical, but he was called for those. It’s a lot of things, even the flagrant fouls. Even the one on Damian (Lillard). He was reaching for the ball, the French player tripped, yes, there’s a collision but… A lot of things are different,” Holiday explained.

Next up, Team USA will face Iran, while France will meet the Czech Republic.

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Prancūzijos rinktinė
JAV rinktinė
47%
29/62
Field goals
36%
25/69
42
Rebounds
36
18
Assists
23
5
Steals
8
60%
21/35
2-pointers
41%
15/37
0
Blocks
4

Best players

Evan  Fournier
28 PTS
11/22 FG
2/3 FT
Jrue  Holiday
18 PTS
5/13 FG
5/6 FT
Rudy  Gobert
9 REB
7 DREB
2 OREB
Bam  Adebayo
10 REB
6 DREB
4 OREB
France
Few players
5 As
USA
Few players
4 As
Rudy  Gobert
17 EFF
83% 2P%
- 3P%
Jrue  Holiday
18 EFF
29% 2P%
50% 3P%