TORONTO (July 9, 2022) – A rematch of one of the most fierce, back and forth battles in the women’s round-robin played out the same way once more as France took the win of the first women’s semifinal of GLOBL JAM in a fight to the finish over Belgium 74-73.
As they have all tournament, Belgium jumped out to a strong start, and potentially their strongest all week, as they held France to just 12 points and tipped in 20 of their own, seeing a 5-0 run to start the game but an even more impressive 8-0 run to lead 16-8 heading into the final two minutes of the quarter before France finally found the net again.
Becky and Billie Massey both asserted their presence at the rim early while Emmeline Leblon came in clutch from beyond the arc for Belgium.
However, France has shown how resilient they can be and their ability to adapt to their opponent as they scored a whopping 32 points in the second quarter to cut Belgium’s lead to just one point as France trailed 45-44 going into the half.
The well-rounded French effort that has seen success through the competition was on full display as five different scorers had six or more points by the half including Kadiatou Sissoko and Tima Pouye both tipping in eight points to lead the comeback charge.
Belgium continued to find the net to try and keep their now slim lead, scoring 25 points in the quarter, thanks to Leblon, Becky Massey and captain Maxuella Lisowa-Mbaka all scoring nine points by the half.
As both teams had to dial in on defence in the second half to try and stop their opponents new found momentum, France managed to utilize their bench efficiently despite Belgium’s stealthy defence that capitalized off many France turnovers earlier in the match.
While France only managed to score 13 points against a strong, physical Belgium team, they held their own and kept Belgium to just 12 points and suddenly at the end of the third quarter the game was tied 57-57 with ten minutes to play.
Lisowa-Mbaka’s four points in three minutes helped Belgium jump out to a five-point lead to start the quarter, but Kendra Chery’s four points of her own and a clutch three-pointer from captain Marine Fauthoux despite an uncharacteristic shooting day had the match tied at 66-66 once again with just under five minutes to play.
Fauthoux’s close-range shots may not have fallen, but as she continued to shoot 66 per cent from beyond the arc, another three-pointer put France ahead by two points with just under four minutes to play as France continued to have more than enough gas in the tank going into the final minutes of a back and forth battle.
Nastja Claessens took matters into her own hands to try and fight back a win for Belgium with six points in the final quarter, but as Belgium turned the ball over and Fauthoux made one final drive to the basket for France, their captain would secure the basket and the win for a berth in the final.
“I’m very very proud of my team. We fought until the end, we know when you play two times in a row against a team it’s never the same,” said Fauthoux.
“Belgium is a very tough team, it was very hard, but in the end, all my teammates played very hard and it’s a good win.”
Fauthoux finished the game with a team-leading 14 points, while Pouye and Sissoko both finished with 12. Janelle Salaun dominated on the boards for France to keep Belgium at bay with nine points and 10 rebounds in the win.
As for Belgium, five different players finished with 11 or more points, but as the rest of their bench efforts could not keep up with France’s athleticism they fell in a hard-fought match.
Lisowa-Mbaka led all scorers with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while Billie Massey added a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
France will now face off against the winner of the semifinal between Canada and the United States, as Canada was the only team to emerge victorious against France in the round-robin.
With the chip on their shoulder to fight for a win against the home team, France will be looking to improve themselves heading into the final.
“We need to focus on us really, because we saw against Canada, against Belgium today we started really bad,” said Fauthoux.
“I think we need to focus on us and play really hard.”