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David Hein's Eye on the Future
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Basketball gods finally with French talent producers INSEP

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Everyone wants to win a game and sure you might celebrate after a close victory. But then there's the jumping and chest-bumping done by the players from INSEP, France's National Institute of Sport and Physical Education. 

Even grumpy old men wanting kids to stay off their lawns would have to pardon these youngsters after beating Caen 93-87 on April 16 in France’s third division NM1. 

Not only was it the first victory of the season in 32 games for INSEP, which plays their NM1 contests under the name Centre Federal du Basket-Ball - or CFBB. But the win was also their first since January 21, 2012. Yep, January 21, 2012. As in four years. As in 142 games. 

The victory drew praise from throughout the country and France's top basketball leaders, including French Basketball Federation (FFBB) President Jean-Pierre Siutat, FFBB National Technical Director Patrick Beesley and his predecessor and INSEP Director General Jean Pierre de Vincenzi. 

Beesley's quote about the victory being evidence that hard work pays off is especially fitting. The youngsters who have come through INSEP over the years have turned into most of the best players in the country, thanks to hard work from the athletes, coaching staff and other caretakers. 

INSEP was founded at the heart of the Vincennes forest in Paris in 1975 with the goal of picking the best athletes in France and offering them elite training and development facilities. 

Basketball became a part of INSEP's program in 1983, and it's hard to argue with the results if you look at the great players the program has churned out. The list represents a who's who in the France national team, including Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, Evan Fournier, Joffrey Lauvergne, Alexis Ajinca, Damien Inglis, Antoine Diot, Livio Jean-Charles, Leo Westermann and Mouhammadou Jaiteh, the latter who was on the INSEP team that had last won in the NM1, beating Puy in 2012. 

Part of the development concept is to have INSEP play in France's third division NM1 - quite a challenge for a team full of players 18 years and under. And the team cannot be relegated or promoted from the NM1.

"The third division is very difficult," said Tahar Assed, the INSEP men's basketball assistant coach who served 11 years as head coach of the U16 INSEP team.

There are professional players and foreign players. In recent years, the level of the third division has improved. It is very difficult to win, but the most important thing is the formation of the player. - Assed

INSEP/CFBB had been close to wins twice this season, losing 77-72 at home on October 31 against Rueil - currently third in the league; and falling 89-85 at relegation-threatened La Rochelle on March 26. 

The CFBB often trailed between 13 and 17 points in the third quarter and then the professionals of the other teams would pull away for blowout wins. But against Caen, who are fighting for a playoffs spot, the game remained tight - between two and 10 points. And the INSEP youngsters ended up getting the job done.

This time the basketball gods were with us. - Assed

Jaylen Hoard led the way with 23 points while Ivan Fevrier added 22 and Ludovic Beyhurst chipped in 15 points and six assists. 

In fact all three of those players - and seven of the nine who played in the game - were born in 1999, making them a year younger than eligible. Bathiste Tchouaffe and Jules Rambaut were the only 1998-born players who played. 

That showed the class of the 1999 generation even though the 1998-born players Tchouaffe, Rambaut, Timothee Vergiat and Killian Tillie were part of the France team that won the FIBA U16 European Championship title in 2014

“We were really happy because we worked hard to experience moments like these,” Tchouaffe said. 

It hasn't been easy this season. We had our doubts, we were criticised and these are things that bring us together. We told ourselves that this maybe was the reality and we worked twice as hard by staying together - Tchouaffe

"This is a victory that is important for the group and our academy," added Assed.

This 1999 group - which also includes Yves Pons - has another full year together at INSEP and some of the 2000-born players are very promising as well with Sekou Doumbouya topping them all as one of the best players of his generation in Europe. There is also an in-coming crop of 2001-born youngsters.

Buoyed by the confidence of finally having picked up a victory over a team fighting for the playoffs as well as some major talent, it would be a surprise if the INSEP youngsters don’t pick up a couple of victories next season in the NM1. 

David Hein


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Eye on the Future is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent worldwide and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.