Nicolas Batum is not looking forward to the trip back to France and it’s hard to blame him.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward and France veteran was stunned on Sunday after Latvia beat France 88-86 in their FIBA World Cup Group H game in Jakarta, Indonesia. This defeat sent France, who had finished third in the last two World Cups, home before the knockout stage of the tournament.
“I’ve never been embarrassed in this shirt, but this is the first time I’ve been embarrassed,” Batum said. via CBS Sports. I’m afraid to go home because we’ve let so many people down. Many people believed in us to do something special. We didn’t do that.”
France struggled during this summer’s World Cup, which few expected. The team was one of the medalists of the tournament and entered the event ranked 5th in the world by FIBA.
On Friday, Canada dominated France in the first game of the tournament. France lost by 30 points, the biggest defeat by a top team in a major event since 1987.
Then on Sunday, France stumbled again despite holding a 13-point lead at halftime. Latvia rallied in the closing minutes and took its first lead of the game with 37.7 points remaining. Rolands Smith dropped 20 points to lead Latvia to victory and Davis Bertans added 15 points.
Evan Fournier led France with 27 points. Guerschon Yabusele finished with 18 points and Rudy Gobert had nine points and seven rebounds.
The win sent Latvia, who beat Lebanon in their opening round game, to Canada’s knockout stage. France and Lebanon meet on Tuesday, although France cannot finish better than 17th.
It’s different when you lose in the semi-finals or quarter-finals. I mean, at least you compete,” Batum said. via the Associated Press. We didn’t even make it past the first round. We have high expectations. I’m sorry.”
Despite a poor showing in Asia, France is still expected to compete for a medal at next summer’s Paris Olympics. Batum, Fournier and Guber are expected to return to the team. San Antonio Spurs rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Victor Wimbanyama is also expected to join the team. He skipped the World Cup this summer to prepare for his rookie season in the NBA. France is also trying to get 76ers star Joel Embiid on its national team for the Olympics.
While France have a year to figure it out before the tournament heads to Paris, this latest trip for the French was undoubtedly tough.
“It’s very difficult,” Fournier said. via the Associated Press. it’s very difficult. Not much to say. We didn’t think we would leave the tournament like this. We should learn from it and come back next year. There is nothing else to do.”