NANTES (2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Isabelle Yacoubou stepped up when her team needed her most as the hosts of the2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT) advanced to the Quarter-Finals thanks to a 70-52 win over New Zealand on Tuesday.
Yacoubou had game-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds off the bench and France secured their second Group A win in as many games.
Turning Point: Leading 29-27 at the break, the question was whether the Tall Ferns would be able to remain as focused for the remaining of the contest. It took France's very best in the second half to see off a very determined opponent.
Stats Don't Lie: Six lead changes through the first three quarters reflected the competitiveness of the game. And by outscoring New Zealand 18-6 in the final frame, France showed resilience and determination to keep alive the dream of claiming one of the five places at stake for the Rio Olympics.
Game Hero: When Yacoubou was taken out of the game with 5:25 left to play, local fans erupted with chants of 'Yacoubou, Yacoubou, Yacoubou,' reflecting their gratitude to the 1.90m center, who destroyed New Zealand's defense.
The Bottom Line: Knowing that a defeat against New Zealand would potentially impact the team's morale, coach Valerie Garnier opted for a taller although slower line-up with Yacoubou, Endy Miyem and Laetitia Kamba late in the third quarter. The strategy paid off as the French headed into the last quarter up 52-46 - their largest lead of the game.
photo Getty Images