Les Bleues had been warned. Rarely at ease against Asian teams and beaten by the same Japanese team in Rio five years ago, the French women’s team was unable to reverse the trend for its first match at the Olympic Games, losing four lengths after a very uneven match.
A rhythmic start to the match
Everything had started rather well for the French women quickly in legs. Valérie Garnier innovates for this first match by launching Gabby Williams and Sarah Michel in the starting five, leaving in particular Marine Johannès on the bench. The Blue try to install their game but the Japanese, true to their reputation, imprint a rhythm of hell in the match, the whole being accompanied nevertheless by a lot of waste.
This rhythm is perfectly suited to Alix Duchet good in her sneakers, and a sovereign Sandrine Gruda inside. Thanks to a good defense, the vice-champions of Europe are leading the race but the start of the restless Evelyn Mawuli revives the local players.
So much so that the French women fall back into their failings by multiplying the losses of ball and errors of inattention in defense largely avoidable. The 3-point address returns to the Japanese side and the gap at the break is not reassuring (34-36 in favor of the Blue).
Start of fatal third quarter
The return of the locker room will definitively plunge the Bleues into troubled waters, the protected Valérie Garnier no longer finding the circle. But above all, they no longer manage to stop the Japanese intentions which develop their fast game as they love it so much under the leadership of the impeccable Rui Machida (7 points and 11 assists). The locals have gained confidence and are stepping up outside shootings, like Saki Hayashi (12 points), while only Sandrine Gruda (18 points and 9 rebounds) manages to compete to limit the damage.
Gabby Williams (9 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists) shakes the French coconut tree with constant activity in defense and if the French nibble their delay in the last quarter, they will suffer to the end the skill of the Japanese, symbolized by this latest achievement of Moeko Nagaoka (11 points) which closes the debates (74-70).
The last attempts of the French clan will remain unsuccessful, sealing the fate of a meeting which places the French women in embarrassment with the new formula of the Olympic tournament which leaves little margin for error. A reaction will obviously be expected from Friday against Nigeria (10:20 am French time) under penalty of great disillusion.