EuroBasket 2013: Batum, France To Much For Latvia
France beat Latvia 102-91 in the second round of competition
at EuroBasket 2013 in the Slovenia's capital Ljubljan. With the victory, the French assure themselves a spot in the quarterfinals, though they can assure themselves a top seed by beating Serbia in their final second round game on Monday.
Nicolas Batum started for France, a team coming off a somewhat unexpected loss to Lithuania, and had his best game of the tournament, finishing with 19 points, ten rebounds, six assists a block and a steal in 33 minutes. Latvia lacks the size to compete effectively against an upper-echelon team like France, and many times Batum's defender seemed unable to stop him from doing much of anything, be it posting up, driving the lane or taking outside shots.
France lead by as many as 22 before Latvia staged a comeback, thanks in large part to shooting 11-for-24 on three-point attempts.
"We had a really good start, especially on defense and that led to good offense," said Batum to EuroBasket.org
. "We had a good start to the third quarter. We started to relax and they made some crazy threes, and they scared us for nothing."
Here are some of Batum's highlights, from start to finish.
Boris Diaw finds Alexis Ajinca, who hits Batum uncovered on the baseline for the dunk. Batum had been cutting back and forth under the basket and was open for the majority of time.
Batum steals a Kaspars Berzins pass, thrown hastily while Berzins was falling out of bounds. Nic gets out in transition with Tony Parker on a two-on-one. Batum throws an easy bounce pass to Tony Parker for the layup.
Batum requests the ball in the post, as his defender is giving up a good four inches. Batum takes one dribble, spins toward the basket and shoots a jumper over his defender, and it's good.
Mickaël Gelabale finds himself double teamed in the paint. Batum recognizes the mismatch and cuts to the basket. Gelabale throws a jump pass to Batum cutting on the baseline, allowing Batum to finish at the rim with the easy dunk.
Batum defending pick and roll at the top of the key. Batum gets picked, but has the recognition to recover back into the lane to stop the "rolling" Latvian defender. Despite that, the Latvian ballhander throws the pass anyway, which Batum knocks away. Latvia gets the ball back, but end up getting a shot clock violation thanks to Batum's defense.
Batum grabs a loose ball offensive rebound near the basket. Rather than putting up a tough shot in traffic, he kicks to Florent Pietrus for an easy jumper in the paint.
France gets too cute on a 2-on-1 fastbreak. Batum tries to thread a bounce pass but it's picked off by Rihards Kuksiks. It's a pass Batum has tried to throw many times during EuroBasket and with very little success.
Batum catches an inbounds pass at the top of the three-point line. With the shot clock winding down he's force to put up a tough three with a defender on him (or below him, to be more accurate), but hits the shot.
Batum uses his arm to hold off a Latvian player while going up for a rebound. Batum gets to the ball first. Lavtia knocks the ball out of his hands, but it's still France's ball. Extra effort leads to extra possession.
Latvia tries to press Parker full-court. Parker passes to Batum, who speed dribbles down the court and into the lane and drops a pass to Nando De Colo for an easy layin.
Batum allows his man, Kristaps Janicenoks, to drive by him (as in, he almost invites Janicenoks to drive) seemingly only so he could block his shot at the rim, which Batum does with ease.
Batum with a three over his much shorter defender.
Latvia, after trailing by 22, cuts France's lead to nine. France's coach, Vincent Collet, responds by putting Batum back in the game.
Latvia tries to press again, but France is able to get the ball to Batum in space, who once again speed dribbles up the court and finds Ajinca for a layin.
Batum makes an athletic play, albeit under Latvia's basket, to save the ball for France despite being up 11 points.
(Photo via EuroBasket2013.org)