The last time Rudy Gobert faced Team USA, France lost a nail-biter at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Facing elimination against the Americans, the 7ft 1in (2.16m) center made sure their Quarter-Finals meeting would have a different outcome.
Anchoring the middle with assurance, Gobert collected 21 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal in a performance to remember. The final scored, 89-79, may seem to imply that Les Bleus cruised to the victory, but the reality was they had to battle back from a seven-point fourth quarter deficit before earning their spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Semi-Finals.
“It’s a huge win, and they are a very talented team,” Gobert said after their landmark triumph. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, and it was. They didn’t give us anything easy, and we stuck to the game plan.”
Coming into this game, the native of Saint-Quentin in northern France had not put up big numbers in their two previous games – a squeaker of a win over Lithuania and a stinging defeat to Australia – but against the Americans, he seemed to have an extra pep in his step.
Could it have been because of something opposing big man Myles Turner of Team USA said earlier in the tournament, referring to Gobert as the “NBA Defensive Player of the Year, according to some”?
“Yeah, I saw it, but I see a lot of things every day,” Gobert said. “At the end of the day, I do what I have to do on the court, and I just try to help my team win every time I step on the court,” he concluded