Just 24 hours after downing world number 14 Brazil, 72-69, the Boomers notched a nail-biting one-point win over the 15th ranked ‘Le Bleus’.
Australia’s win was all the more impressive given France’s line-up included NBA trio of Nicolas Batum, Alexis Ajinca and Boris Diaw.
Patrick Mills continued his hot form for the Boomers, scoring a game-high 18 points and adding four assists, two rebounds and two steals. Former South Dragons NBL star Joe Ingles added 13 points and five rebounds and ex-Townsville Crocodile Brad Newley had 10 points and four assists.
Former Sydney Kings star Matt Nielsen was the hero for the Australians however making a two-pointer with three seconds on the clock to seal the win.
Ali Traore led the French with 17 points, Nando De Colo had 10 and Mickael Gelebale scored nine.
Boomers head coach Brett Brown said his team used some strong team defence once again to score the win.
“It was the same defensive effort that got us the win against Brazil last night,” Brown said. “We held France to 31 second half points, and have been trying to focus on producing quality defensive periods, and I thought our third and fourth quarter effort on defence was excellent.
“I look forward to our offence catching up with our defence, because at moment our defence is a long way ahead. We need to take more pride in caring for the ball. We’ve been committing far too many turnovers. This area concerns me greatly. Ultimately, we need to combine better offensive discipline with the strong defensive base we are building upon if we are going to take the next step.”
Brown said the final play wasn’t pretty but his team had reacted well to the situation to make the winning play.
“France did a good job defending what we tried to run, but our players made good reads of the situation as a team and found Matty under the basket,” Brown said.
The French, spurred on by their home crowd, controlled much of the action in the first quarter and led by as many as seven points at one stage. A three and a two to close out the term from Mills however helped the Boomers go to the first break on level terms with their hosts, 19-19.
Again in the second period the French enjoyed a lead for most of the time, building a six-point buffer midway through the term before Australia fought back to trail by just two at the main break, 35-33.
The Boomers came out of the half with renewed energy and outscored the French 22-14 in the third quarter.
France surged back to level the scores at 55-55 with 7:29 remaining in the game but the Boomers held fast. Mills hit a three, and Ingles and Damian Martin (Perth Wildcats) each scored a basket to re-establish a seven-point lead, 62-55.
The French made one final run however and when Nicolas Batum scored a two with 1:58 remaining the scores were again tied at 63 apiece.
The French took the lead for the first time in the period when Nando De Colo scored with 45 seconds left in the contest, but Gold Coast Blaze guard Adam Gibson scored to level the ledger at 65-65 with 27 seconds remaining.
Diaw made one of two free throws on the next possession for France to give the home team a 66-65 edge, and Australia called a time-out to draw up a final play, setting the stage for Nielsen’s heroics. The Australian in-bounds pass was broken up by the French and in the ensuing scramble, Nielsen came up with the ball close to the hoop and made the winning basket.
The match was the second of three games for the Boomers in Lyon against a trio of world championship competitors in what is their last tournament before travelling to Turkey for the world titles.
Australia’s final pre-world championship hit-out will be a game against Cote d’Ivoire at 6:00PM local French time on Tuesday (2:00AM Wednesday morning Australian time.)
The 2010 FIBA World Championships will be held in Turkey from 28 August to 12 September, and will be broadcast in Australia live and exclusive on FOX SPORTS.
Australia has been drawn in Group A for the 2010 FIBA World Championships and will open their quest for gold with a clash against Jordan on 28 August. They then face Argentina (29 August), Germany (30 August), Serbia (1 September) and Angola (September 2). All of the Boomers’ five preliminary round games will be held in the Turkish city of Kayseri.
Villeurbanne International Tournament (Lyon, France)
Australia 67 (Mills 18 points, Ingles 13, Newley 10)
France 66 (Traore 17, De Colo 10, Gelebale 9)