Paris 2024: the French basketball teams rather happy in the draw for the Olympic Games

Their path has become clearer, but the path has hardly been paved with simplicity

Paris 2024: the French basketball teams rather happy in the draw for the Olympic Games

Their path has become clearer, but the path has hardly been paved with simplicity. The French men's and women's basketball teams discovered their opponents in the group stages of the Paris Olympic Games on Tuesday March 19 following the draw at the headquarters of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). On the menu: the recent German world champions, for Vincent Collet's men, and in particular the formidable Australian Opals for the Bleues; but French men and women – both medalists at the Tokyo Olympics – can congratulate themselves on not falling into an insurmountable group from the outset.

“The Olympic tournament only has twelve teams, and this is probably going to be the toughest in history. So we knew that there were only strong teams on our way,” noted the Blues coach, Vincent Collet, at a press conference, recognizing “a real excitement” after learning the identity of the teams that his troops will have to clear their way to their goal: an Olympic coronation at home. “For me, it’s really starting! »

129 days before the opening of the Paris Olympics, it was in Mies, near Geneva (Switzerland), where FIBA ​​is headquartered, that former NBA player Carmelo Anthony made the draw, alongside the former Australian star Penny Taylor. And the three-time Olympic champion – in four participations – and member of the “Redeem Team” sent by the Americans to Beijing in 2008 to restore the image of the country of basketball, after a poor start to the 21st century, had the hand rather light for the Blues.

If Rudy Gobert's partners will therefore find on their way the Germany of leader Dennis Schröder, crowned world champion in the fall of 2023, they will not suffer from the toughest group in the competition. In their Group B, they will face Japan, as well as the winner of the Latvia Olympic qualifying tournament (Latvia, Georgia, Philippines; Brazil, Montenegro, Cameroon).

Group A: Australia, Qualifier TQO Greece, Canada, Qualifier TQO Spain

Group B: France, Germany, Japan, Qualified TQO Latvia

Group C: Serbia, South Sudan, Qualifier TQO Puerto Rico, United States

The French, for their part, found two tough opponents on their way, Australia and Canada, as well as Nigeria, but avoided having to face the unbeatable Americans – who have been winning gold medals since the Olympic Games. Atlanta 1996 – from the first round. A rather lenient draw for Marine Johannès' teammates, who won bronze in Tokyo.

The importance of finishing at the top of their group

“It will not be easy, they are quite athletic teams, but the group is very homogeneous,” reacted the Bleues coach, Jean-Aimé Toupane, assuring that “each match will be a challenge” for his troops, who “have the ambition to go as high as possible, and to face all the teams. »

Group A: Serbia, Spain, China, Puerto Rico

Group B: Canada, Nigeria, Australia, France

Group C: Germany, USA, Japan, Belgium

“It’s going to be a very exciting and extremely competitive tournament,” anticipated the French boss of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (COJO), Tony Estanguet, a few minutes before the draw – also coming to reassure the basketball community about “success to come” of the tournament competition, whose relocation to the Lille suburbs (at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq) did not go smoothly. Bringing together only twelve teams (for both women and men), the Olympic basketball tournament promises a fierce fight from the group stage among the many contenders for the podium.

“The competition is tougher than it was in 2021,” predicted Vincent Collet, insisting on the capital importance for the Blues to finish at the top of their group, “and if possible among the top two best” of the group stage. The only way for them to ensure – almost – of facing the formidable Americans in the quarter-finals. In this twelve-team tournament, the top two from each pool (of four) qualify, and the top two play against the two “best third-place finishers” from the first phase – also qualified. A small certainty in an ocean of unknowns, insofar as the quarter-finals are again determined by a draw.

Guaranteed not to face the “Avengers team” that Team USA is putting together in the first round, due to the composition of the hats prior to the draw, the French know that they will face them in another time of competition, if they want to go far. If the reason given is officially the status of reigning Olympic champion of the Americans, which would protect them from immediately meeting the hosts of the Olympic Games, to the extent that this rule did not apply to the women's tournament, we must undoubtedly look for on the side of TV broadcasters. By having France and the United States in two groups, the channels ensure a menu of choice each evening of the tournament.

Admitted to having “had butterflies in his stomach” before the draw, Vincent Collet is now fixed, like his counterpart from Les Bleues. In the North, first, then in the heart of the capital, in the former Paris-Bercy sports center (Accor Arena), their French teams know their path to the summits of the basketball Olympus.