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France wins bronze in Tokyo with key contributions from Williams, Gruda

Gabby Williams starred in the bronze medal game and Sandrine Gruda was steady throughout the Olympics for France women’s basketball. They earned their country a spot on the podium.

Valeriane Vukosavljevic (left) and Marine Fauthoux (right) of France.
Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Gabby Williams stuffed the stat sheet throughout the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, averaging 4.6 assists and 3.2 steals entering Saturday’s bronze medal game against Serbia.

In that contest at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Williams led France with a Tokyo-individual-high 17 points and her team received balanced scoring elsewhere en route to a 91-76 triumph. This is France’s second-ever Olympic medal in women’s basketball with the first coming in silver form in 2012.

France faced a lot of adversity in Tokyo, but emerged as the third-best team in the world with the help of some WNBA talent, namely Williams, who is a member of the Los Angeles Sparks and was a contributor for the Chicago Sky last year. Marine Johannès, who averaged 11.2 points and 3.8 assists in Tokyo, currently has a suspended contract with the New York Liberty, a team she scored 7.2 points per game for in 2019.

Sandrine Gruda held her own against some of the best bigs in the world and was France’s go-to scorer in Tokyo. She played six seasons in the W, the most recent being 2017, and averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Connecticut Sun in 2009.

Williams added a team-high eight rebounds and tied the team high with four assists in the bronze medal game. Endene Miyem was second on the team with 16 points and also grabbed five rebounds while Gruda had 14 and five to go along with four assists. Marine Fauthoux, the 29th overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, notched 12 points while Johannès (three assists), Alix Duchet (three assists) and Alexia Chartereau each had 10.

Iliana Rupert, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft who was taken by the Las Vegas Aces, played just 9:34 against Serbia and was held scoreless. She did however score 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from the free throw line in 14 minutes of action against the United States in group play.

France trailed Serbia 23-19 after one, but won the second 24-17 and the third 24-16. Serbia would cut it to seven on Yvonne Anderson free throws with 3:38 to play but would get no closer. A Nevena Jovanovic triple with 1:33 to go cut it to nine, allowing Serbia to cling to hope. But a Williams step back three with 39 seconds left made it a 12-point game and Johannès provided the exclamation mark with a trey of her own at four ticks remaining.

Anderson finished with 24 points and five helpers in defeat. Teammate Jelena Brooks added 14 points, six boards and five assists while Sonja Vasic was good for nine, eight and three.

France shot 51.9 percent from beyond the arc with 14 makes. Williams was 4-of-5 while Fauthoux and Chartereau were both a perfect 2-of-2.