Finland vs France: ‘We’re used to being the underdogs’

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File picture of Finland basketball player Jamar Wilson / Credit: Ville Vuorinen

Finland faces France tonight in a basketball clash that one player is describing as a “David and Goliath” contest.

The men’s national team Susijengi will take on world number three France at Espoo’s Metro Arena this evening in a World Cup qualifying game.

The last time the two teams met in Montpelier last September, the French side emerged easy victors 83-67.

But the Finns are looking to turn the tables tonight, and they’re no strangers to playing some of the biggest national teams in the world.

“Usually in our groups we are accustomed to drawing these big teams, so it came to a point where it’s normal for us” says Finnish player Jamar Wilson.

“Usually when we play Italy or Turkey, we deal with countries with massive numbers and bigger prospects, so we’re accustomed to being the underdogs” he says.

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The French side visiting Espoo tonight is fielding one of their star players, 17-year old Theo Maledon, but Jamar Wilson says there’s a lot of familiarity about the team they’re facing.

“I played in France, we have some coaches who coaches in France, we know a lot of players some of them I played with even last year. Being in Europe you get familiar with the key players and French players are usually very athletic, premium athletes” says Wilson.

“We know the young kid [Theo Maledon] is really good, he’s being touted as an NBA prospect, but that being said we need to go out there to scratch and claw and win the game” he tells News Now Finland.

Susijengi can expect a sold-out game tonight at Espoo Arena, and that’s an important factor for the Finnish players hoping for a home crowd advantage.

“I say it often, a lot of the games we win because of our chemistry, but the most important thing at home is our fans, especially in the situation where we have a lot of different new guys, young guys, and playing in front of our fans gives them confidence, feeling like we can do no wrong as long as they go out and play hard” Wilson explains.

Going into tonight’s game Finland have three wins and three losses in their campaign to qualify for a spot in the World Cup finals, which take place in China later this year.

A total of 32 teams take part in eight cities, and although Finland is currently ranked 21st in the world, there’s no guarantees they will make it into the China championships.