With the World Championships in Turkey just four days away, teams from all parts of the globe are finishing up friendlies before taking a few days of rest. The French, featuring our man Nicolas Batum, and the Australians, with everyone's favorite Aussie fact-buster Patty Mills, met up yesterday in Villerbaune, France in the final game of a four team tournament. Lead by Patty, who scored a game-high 18 points, the Boomers beat Les Bleus 67-66
That's the good news for Blazers fans. The not-as-good news is that Batum, who finished the game with 5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists and a block, missed an open look at a three-pointer
that would have been the game winner.
Just 24 hours after edging Brazil, Brett Brown’s Boomers got
a Matt Nielsen basket with just three seconds remaining to take a
After a timeout by France coach Vincent Collet, Les Bleus inbounded the
ball and got it into the hands of an open Nicolas Batum behind the
three-point line but the Portland Trail Blazer missed as Australia edged
a close encounter.
Bummer for Nic, but congrats to Patty.
The Australians have looked recently like a legit second-tier contender for the World Championships. They're probably not good enough to take down the likes of the USA, Spain, Greece or Argentina, but they've shown throughout the run-up to Turkey that they're capable of competing at that level just below elite. They should be able to get through group play and into the knockout round, and Patty has been a big part of that accession.
Unfortunately, the French seem to be going in the opposite direction. The loss of Rodrigue Beaubois, who broke his foot while training with the national team, was probably too much for the French to recover from considering they're already missing all of their legitimate NBA talent aside from Batum and Boris Diaw. They've still got a good chance of advancing assuming that they can beat out two of the three lower-tier teams in their group (those would be Canada, Lebanon and New Zealand), but it doesn't look nearly as certain as it did a month ago.
(Thanks to Rip City Project
for tracking down that box score. Tre bien)