It wasn’t an overwhelming performance from France, whose 73-69 victory over Tunisia firmly entrenches them in the second slot in Pool A, but it was a win nonetheless.
Tony Parker, while he received extended rests in the second and fourth quarters, exhibited his full repertoire — whether that it was his patented floater, transition layup or 3-pointer. He finished with 22 points as Tunisia struggled to make any substantial run in his 28:38 minutes on the floor.
Tunisia totaled five turnovers compared to only one assist in the first quarter, entering the second period with a manageable five-point deficit. France converted on 57% of their shots while racking up five assists. Most impressively, five different players contributed to the assist total.
Parker, scoring five points in the first quarter, received a well deserved rest to open the second quarter — where, unsurprisingly, Tunisia cut the eight-point deficit to two points in six minutes.
Upon Parker’s return, France immediately jumped out to a mini 4-0 rally. Parker totaled four points and three assists in his brief stint as France exited the half with a 35-27 lead. They shot 52% from the field while creating nine turnovers. Tunisia remained close because they dominated handily on the boards, especially offensively, where they grabbed 11 boards alone.
The third quarter was a manifestation of the previous two quarters — Parker scored at will and Diaw, who finished with five assists, distributing to the other double-digit scorers in Nicolas Batum and Kevin Seraphin. Parker scored 13 points in the third. Tunisia was outscored, 25-16, in the quarter.
Tunisia manufactured a 14-2 run that spanned the third and fourth frames, respectively. The French lead, which was as highest as 17 points, was whittled down to 11 points, then nine and seven. They nearly got within five points before a turnover, one of their 19 turnovers on the night, spurred a Nando De Colo layup in transition and a 3-pointer from Batum.
Mohamed Hadidane, whose 20 points all came in the second half, was at the forefront of Tunisia’s second push, though it was a little late. The deficit was, however, a mere five points with 50 seconds to play.
After Parker drew a switch on the pick-and-roll, he lofted his third 3-pointer of the night that missed unceremoniously. De Colo, whose four turnovers led the team, grabbed the offensive board, allowing Les Bleus to kill more clock.
Hadidane’s 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the lead to four points but it was an inconsequential three points. France will look for their fourth preliminary victory Monday against Nigeria at 8:30 am CST.