STRASBOURG (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers) - On the brink of their first defeat in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers, France put the game in Boris Diaw's hands and he did not disappoint.
Turning point: It was a close-fought game from start to finish, with the gap staying in single digits for the entirety of the contest. After coming back from a 58-52 deficit to force overtime, Russia seemed primed to win the game when Sergey Karasev converted both of his free-throws to give the visitors a 74-73 edge with 23 seconds left. However, the hosts had other ideas.
Game hero: Boris Diaw took it upon himself to get the job done in Strasbourg late in the game, scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points in overtime, including a pair of crucial three-pointers. He also added 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Stats don't lie: France really put an emphasis on sharing the ball, finishing the game with 22 assists. Andrew Albicy and Boris Diaw were responsible for 16 of them, dishing out 9 and 7 dimes respectively. As a team, Russia had only 12 assists.
Bottom line: There are only seven unbeaten teams in the European Qualifiers and France is one of them, heading the proceedings in Group E with a 3-0 record. Meanwhile, Russia fell to third place after dropping to a 1-2 mark.
They said: "It was a tough game. We saw it go all the way to overtime. It was very tight. We felt like we did a good job defensively and I think they did. Offensively, we made some mistakes, but at least we stayed in the game. I think the young players, this young team showed a lot of character that we stayed in the game until the end and during overtime to be able to win. I'm very happy with the win and it's going to be very important for the future, obviously." – France big man Boris Diaw.
"I think we dominated inside, but every time we gave the ball inside, they came to double-team and we were not very dangerous from beyond the arc today. Therefore, it was difficult for us to find solutions, but we had the [luxury] of having a fantastic captain. [Fantastic everywhere], except the free-throw line. I think he carried us the whole game. Offensively, he did everything, scoring like never before. I think, since I've been the coach, it's probably the most points he's scored. I know he doesn't like that, but it was important for us, especially that last basket. I think we really have to thank him, because he was the main reason for our win. Everybody was needed. But again… Thank you, captain!" - France head coach Vincent Collet.