Facing USA For Olympic Gold A Dream Come True For Gobert
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert just won arguably the most important game of his life. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year helped the French National team beat Slovenia and advance to the gold medal game against Team USA.
In the Olympic semifinal, Gobert’s teammate Nicolas Batum blocked what would have been the game-winning layup by Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic, preserving France’s undefeated record at the games.
After his nine point, 16 rebound, four block performance, Gobert talked to KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen about the final play, and what lies ahead against Team USA.
“Nico did an amazing play, and it just shows who we are as a group,” Gobert told KSL Sports. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity, and when things get tough, we didn’t give up.”
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France led by as many as 10 points late in the third quarter, but Slovenia battled back to the tie game at 85 with three minutes to play.
Over the final three minutes, France outscored Lithuania 5-4, fueled by six rebounds from Gobert and the assist on Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot’s game-clinching three-point make.
After beating Slovenia, Gobert and the French National Team must turn their attention to the heavily favored Team USA in the gold medal game. While he has less than 48 hours to prepare for the matchup, Gobert says it’s a game he’s dreamed about his entire life.
“When I was a kid and I started playing basketball, I dreamed that one day I could play in the Olympic final against the USA and win.”
France upset the Americans in group play, earning an 83-76 victory to open the games, but Gobert said he knows that will have little bearing on Friday’s meeting.
“We know they are the best team in the tournament,” Gobert said. “We know that they’re not the same team that we played early in the tournament either.”
Gobert is guaranteed to leave Tokyo with no worse than the silver medal after beating Slovenia in the semifinal. It will mark the third time the French have taken home an Olympic medal in men’s basketball, having won the silver in 1948 in London and at the 2000 game in Sydney.
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s final, Gobert knows he has a lot to be proud of.
“I’m excited for myself, for the country, and for French basketball, there are just no words to describe it,” Gobert said. “It’s gonna be a huge challenge for us, and we’re going to try to pick up the challenge as best as we can.”
France will face Team USA Friday at 8:15 pm MT, while Jazz guard Joe Ingles and Australia will face Slovenia at 5 am MT Saturday morning.
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