BORDEAUX (France) - After nearly a month, star Laetitia Guapo returned to Women’s Series action in style as France beat powerhouse China 13-16 in FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series Bordeaux Stop 2023 on July 19-20.
Here’s how the French side took home the win in the twelfth stop of the series.
The Winners: France
Home support? Check. Return of La Guapa? Check. Full strength squad? Check.
In the most star-studded stop so far, Les Blueus were armed and ready, but it wasn’t the hot start they were hoping for.
Their first matchup was against Poland, a notoriously long and defensively stringent team. France held up their end of the defensive bargain, but could never get going on offense. With just 7 seconds to go, Myriam Djekoundade scored the winning lay for a close one-point win.
They went up against perennial dark horses in Neftchi who just couldn’t find their rhythm. A gritty game but it was the incredible Guapo who shone, scoring 13 of her side’s 16 points to lead them to the win and a quarter-final tie against Hungary.
It was yet another monster Guapo game while Hortense Limouzin continued to be a tireless thorn in the opposition’s side. She picked up 9 rebounds that paid huge dividends for the French.
They faced Düsseldorf ZOOS who kept getting the better of their opponents, from their opener against China all the way to the Quarter-finals matchup against Latvia. The magic of Mai Yamamoto and Aoi Katsura would end right there as an immense display from the on-fire duo of Djekoundade and Guapo took care of business, booking a place in the finals.
Their opener against Gyor said something profound, while the squad was close to the one that has been dominant all season long, it felt different. While they picked up the win, it was hardly business as usual. Lili Wang found her groove on scoring but ZhiTing Zhang had a tough finishing night.
The woes would ramp up for them as they picked up a loss in a game they felt comfortable in against Düsseldorf ZOOS. Katsura caught fire late to take them to the win, leaving China lost.
They faced Spain next, who they were able to oust despite an inspired showing by Sandra Ygueravide.
Going up against yet another previous winner in Canada, China took care of business despite another stellar 10-point performance from Katherine Plouffe.
The finals was set, two of the most dominant teams in the competition, France Vs China.
China 13 - 16 France
China took control of the proceedings to start, relying on feeding their bigs. Kun Huang had not had the stellar scoring performance from the arc, and France eventually made sure that doesn’t happen this game as well.
The game slowly turned into a back-and-forth battle, both teams trading blows, none gaining solid advantage.
What soon turned out to be the difference maker was Djekoundade whose defense shut out the heart of the team in Lili Wang. Guapo was just as crucial with her defense against Zhang.
With 2 minutes left, the game was begging for a team to claim it. Enter La Guapa. She drained a huge two that granted the team a 3 point lead. Djekoundade followed with a bucket to make it four. Soon after it was another two by Guapo who made it a 5-point advantage. A lay-up by Limouzin made it 16 points for the French side. Any attempts from China to edge back into the game were thwarted by their defense. A missed free throw by Wang sealed the game in favor of the French in Bordeaux.
MVP - Laetitia Guapo
La Guapa returned to Women’s Series action in style, lighting up the court with her buckets and locking down everyone in her way. Her versatile performance led to her winning the MVP award.
4. Dusseldorf ZOOS (GER)
7. Neftchi (AZE)
9. France U24
9. Austria (QD)
10. Turkey (QD)
11. Gyor (HUN)
The competition is headed to Canada as the FIBA 3x Women’s Series Edmonton Stop 2023 takes place on June 29 - 30.