Frank Ntilikina
Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Frank Ntilikina did all he could to keep France afloat, but the New York Knicks guard could not save his squad against Argentina.

After securing one of the biggest basketball wins in the history of the country, Team France laid an egg in the semifinals against Argentina. Despite the French loss, New York Knicks fans can take solace in the fact that Frank Ntilikina looked tremendous.

Ntilikina’s lukewarm start included a made jump shot and two misses. Argentina was clearly playing off Ntilikina and daring him to beat them. He wasn’t taking advantage of the defensive coverage early, but that would change.

In the second half, he started knocking down those open looks. The French point guard finished with 16 points on 7-for-12 from the floor. He also chipped in two rebounds and two assists.

When France was just barely treading water in the fourth quarter, Ntilikina was the one who seemed to come up with the timely bucket.

The Knicks guard was the best player on the floor for France, but therein lies the problem.

Ultimately, France didn’t receive enough production from their big stars, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier. Gobert was non-existent on offense. Fournier’s foul trouble combined with a poor shooting night is a key takeaway from the loss.

That being said, Argentina deserves all the credit in the world for this win. As Tom Thibodeau would say, their defense was “swarming” to the ball. That ball pressure led to the four French starters not named Ntilikina to shoot a paltry 9-for-29 from the floor.

Unsurprisingly, the ageless wonder—Luis Scola—came out firing in the first quarter. His energy from the opening tip helped spur the Argentines to an early lead.

They kept the French at arm’s length for the entire game with an answer for every comeback attempt. Scola poured in 28 points in just about every way possible. He featured his crafty post-game, three-point shooting, and ability to draw out contact. Not to mention, he scooped up 13 rebounds to boot.

Argentina will take on Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, and Spain in the finals after La Roja stole a thrilling double-overtime victory at the expense of Australia.

The Boomers will take on the French in the third-place game. Both the third-place game and finals will take place on Sunday.

 

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