Frank Ntilikina
Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images

Despite a cold shooting night for Frank Ntilikina, France was able to mount a second-half comeback to beat Australia and secure the bronze.

  • France 67 (Bronze)
  • Australia 59 (Fourth Place)
  • World Cup, Third-Place Game, Box Score
  • Beijing, China

This wasn’t the ultimate goal for France, but a bronze medal is a significant accomplishment for the country. Frank Ntilikina had a forgettable game offensively. However, his overall performance at the 2019 FIBA World Cup should give New York Knicks fans hope for the future.

Ntilikina hit his first shot of the game but missed his next six. The Knicks guard finished with two points, four rebounds, and two assists. His suffocating defense and the bronze medal will make his rough shooting night more palatable.

Australia and France’s second-round matchup finished with 198 total points. The third-place game was a much more physical and defensive affair.

After only scoring 21 points to Australia’s 30 in the first half, the French exploded for 46 second-half points. Nicolas Batum sparked a 17-4 run in the third quarter with his savvy defense and timely shooting.

Nando De Colo was a major factor off the bench. His game-high 19 points were instrumental in the French comeback. Boston Celtics center Vincent Poirier came up huge as well, notching eight points and seven rebounds in the victory.

France desperately needed Poirier’s contributions. For the second-straight game, Rudy Gobert was a non-factor. The Boomers seemed to have Gobert’s number in this tournament.

France failed short of the ultimate goal—a gold medal. However, a bronze medal, qualification in the Olympics, and the emergence of Ntilikina on the international level are quite the collection of consolation prizes.

Wins over Australia, USA, Lithuania, and Germany are no joke. The French will carry some serious momentum into the Olympics in 2020. Beating Team USA with their full complement of stars will be a tall order for Les Bleus. That being said, a medal at the Olympics is a realistic goal for France.

Ntilikina’s World Cup went about as well as he could have hoped. The 21-year-old showed that he can be a valuable role player on a winning team. His breakout performances in the fourth quarter against Team USA and the second half against Argentina should give him serious confidence heading into Knicks training camp.

 

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