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Batum
Nicolas Batum (France)
29/07/2012
OLYM - Batum ready to put USA game behind, focus on Argentina, Lithuania

LONDON (Olympics) - Tipping off an Olympic Basketball Tournament against the reigning champions is not always something a team necessarily welcomes, but in the case of France, it's now done and they cannot afford to dwell on it for too long.

The French - runners-up at last year's EuroBasket - fell to the mighty USA on Sunday and now look ahead to their game against former Olympic gold medalists Argentina on Tuesday and another big clash against fellow European powerhouse Lithuania two days later.

"You've got to be ready right away," France small forward Nicolas Batum said of what it takes to go up against the Americans in a team's very first game.

"It can't get tougher than playing the USA (to open the tournament) because they are the big favourites. But we showed that we can do something great but then they started to make some big shots.

"Now we have to be focused on Argentina because that's going to be a huge test."

Against the USA, who are also the defending world champions, France did well to keep the game close early, trailing 22-21 at the end of the first quarter.

For Batum though, what happened thereafter, as the USA cruised to a 98-71 win, was no big surprise.

"In the first quarter they were tight and we were ready for them. But then they got loose and Kobe started to make some big shots, LeBron (James) and (Kevin) Durant started to get their rhythm too," he explained.

The 23-year-old swingman was also quick to dispel what he believes to be a wrong notion about the USA team.

"People say they're too small but LeBron is like every big of other teams and KD is longer than every big guy of the other team too.

"They did a great job on the offensive rebounds. We didn't control the rebounds and that was our main focus, that and the turnovers. We had too many turnovers.

"One of our main strengths is the three-point shot and we were only two of 22 tonight."

Looking ahead is all Batum wants to concern himself with.

To begin with, he hopes to play more minutes in games to come after having been bothered by a sore back against the Americans.

"It was tough because I had a bad back. I tried to play with it, I tried everything," he said.

"I hurt it during the Opening Ceremony, standing four or five hours in a row. I'm not used to that."

As for they keys to France being successful from here on out, he believes the game against the USA served as a good lesson.

"We need to control the rebounds. They (the Americans) missed their shots but they got the offensive rebounds almost every time.

"I think in the first quarter, if we control the rebounds, maybe we're up by five or six and it could be a different game. Turnovers and rebounds were the story."

"We've got four more games.

"That's why we didn't play the last quarter. Don't get tired for nothing. We tried. And our next two games against Argentina and Lithuania are going to be huge for us."

FIBA

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