Frank Ntilikina, France stave off furious German comeback in FIBA World Cup opener

Frank Ntilikina was relatively quiet in France’s opening game victory against Germany, but the New York Knicks guard was perfect from three.

Danny Small

  • France 78 (1-0, 2 points)
  • Germany 74 (0-1, 1 point)
  • FIBA World Cup, Final, Box Score
  • Shenzen, China

Here we go. Earlier this weekend, I wrote about why Sunday was the start of the 2019-20 season for New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina. France and Ntilikina were able to hold off a second-half surge from the Germans in their opening match of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Ntilikina was solid, albeit unspectacular. He finished with eight points on 2-for-5 shooting with one steal in 13 minutes. Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the game was that normally inconsistent shooter knocked down both of his three-point attempts.

Although Ntilikina didn’t leave a major imprint on this game, if he’s knocking down threes, he’ll see significant time on the court. In fact, only Nando De Colo played more minutes off the bench (18).

Despite that one incredible pass from De Colo, he was frustrating to watch. Poor decisions were the norm for the former NBA player and he finished with five of France’s 16 turnovers.

The French relied heavily on their starting five, and for good reason. Rudy Gobert and company jumped out to a 16-4 lead after the first quarter and the Germans were forced to play catch up the whole game.

Gobert, Amath M’Baye, and Evan Fournier were a three-headed monster for France. Gobert finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and five blocks. M’Baye started the game hot and finished with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Fournier took a little while to find his rhythm, but he was the closer France needed late. He led France in points and rebounds with 26 and 10, respectively. With ice in his veins, Fournier dealt a crushing blow on a beautiful one-legged step-back jumper. That was all the French would need.

Although the Germans were completely inept in the first quarter, the scorching hot shooting of Johannes Voigtmann kept them in the contest. Voigtmann dropped 25 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 5-for-7 from three-point land.

Dennis Schroder tallied 23 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. However, he was inefficient for much of the game, only shooting 7-for-19 from the floor. Part of his struggles to shoot the ball can be attributed to the stifling French defense. Gobert played the role of gatekeeper at the rim, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Ntilikina and France will count their lucky stars for this win. It was an up-and-down performance, but Germany is the second-best team in Group G. This win that all but guarantees France’s advancement into the second round of group play.

The French will face Jordan on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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