An important battle awaits the national teams of Lithuania and France at the European Championship – both teams lost their first match and will aim to finally record their first victory. If we lose again, the situation would be complicated, and the psychological state would not be the best.
Thomas Heurtel – the most experienced player of the French national team. The 33-year-old 188 cm player has been defending the honor of the national team for nine years and during this time he has seen what it means to enjoy medals of the highest quality, but also what it means to remain very far from the podium.
2013 was a historic year for the French national team and also for Th. Heurtel. The debutant of the national team went to Slovenia to warm up his legs at that time, but eventually brought home the gold medal.
It was the first gold medal in history for the French, by the way, it was won in the final against the Lithuanian national team.
“Then I didn’t play much because I was just making my debut. I remember this championship, I was very happy for the gold”, – Th. Heurtelis recalled his first fight against Lithuania to the Krepsinis.net portal.
“Tony Parker is making a movie with my gold,” Linas Kleiza remembers this championship.
It was from that year that the glorious French era in European basketball began. A year later, he managed to achieve bronze at the World Cup, then bronze at the European Championships.
“I have been with the national team for 9 years – it was a good period during which we achieved several medals. It’s just a pity that in 2015 In France, we missed the chance to become champions”, – the player feels the only bitterness. This time the title went to the Spaniards, silver to the Lithuanians.
Coach Vincent Collet, who has been training the national team since 2009, is also a symbol of the glorious times. Although the Frenchman has achieved resounding victories with the national team, this is lacking in club basketball. What are the reasons?
“This coach had a good relationship with a lot of national team players, including Tony Parker, Boris Diaw. We see that new players are coming to the national team, who, of course, also have to get used to the coach,” said Th. Heurtelis.
2017 was a black year for France. They managed to win three times in the group stage of the European Championship, but already in the round of 16 they lost to Germany. From this bottom, the French tried to kick later, as they took only 12th place in the championship.
“Then we didn’t have many important players, this year we don’t have some either, we hope the result won’t be the same. It’s difficult when you play without stars, you have new people who need to get used to a lot again,” he mentioned the injury problem.
Th. Heurtel states that now the French must learn the lessons from the first meeting with the Germans as soon as possible.
“We didn’t play well in the last two games. The German national team showed good intensity against which we struggled. We have to react. By the way, in 2013 we also lost the first match of the championship against Germany, but in the end we became champions. We will see if we will show the right reaction against the Lithuanians”, said Th. Heurtelis.
He has not watched the match between Lithuania and Slovenia carefully yet, but he is ready for a tough fight with our team.
“It was a high-intensity match for us. Lithuanians fight hard, they have good players, especially in the front line. We believe that they will show great intensity against us as well”, said the defender.
When asked about the tandem of Jonas Valančiūnas and Domantas Sabonis, Th. Heurtelis unequivocally stated that this is Lithuania’s advantage. “I think this is an advantage of the Lithuanians, they are good, solid players,” he said.
Meanwhile, the tandem of centers Vince Poirier and Rudy Gobert is not so easy to bite on the court himself, directing the attacks.
“During the first match we played together, Poirier played in the ‘fourth position’, which he is not used to. I have to adapt to such situations”, said Th. Heurtelis.
The Frenchman has no doubts – it will be difficult, but the French have hope to think again about medals at the European Championship. Last year they became Olympic vice-champions, in 2019 they became world bronze medalists.
“This year is very difficult, it is one of the strongest championships in history. We have a chance to win medals, but for that we need to play much better than against Germany,” he admitted.
The confrontation between Lithuania and France in the European Championship will take place at 18:45. tonight.