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France to face familiar foes Serbia and Latvia in preparation for Manila OQT
PARIS (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - The movers and shakers in French basketball (FFBB) believe they have set the men's national team up for a strong FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) campaign in Manila after scheduling four friendlies during a month-long preparation.
France edged Serbia early on at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup but the Balkan side avenged that setback in Granada, Spain, with a victory over Collet's squad in Madrid to reach the Final.
Last summer, after suffering a painful overtime defeat to Spain in the Semi-Finals of EuroBasket 2015 at home in Lille, the French put smiles back on the faces of their fans by beating Serbia in the Third-Place Game.
France's director of national teams, Patrick Beesley, knows that the players will be going directly from their club seasons to national team duty but believes all will go well. The only aim is Olympic qualification, something that will happen if the French win the OQT in the Filipino capital.
They will take on the host nation Philippines in their opener on 5 July and then square off against New Zealand in their other Group B game. Should France clinch a top-two finish, they would meet a Group A side - Turkey, Senegal or Canada - in a Semi-Final. The winners of the Semi-Finals will ultimately meet in a battle for the Olympic qualifying berth.
"To implement the program this summer we had to deal with a very tight preparation time between the end of the various championships and the early OQT," Beesley said.
The goal was to find a balance between training periods, allowing Vincent Collet and his staff to work with the group and oppose teams that have have qualified for the OQTs. - Beesley
"In the end, we were able to take up the challenge," Beesley said. "There will be four weeks of preparation, a match abroad and three in France, a France-Serbia rematch of the game for the bronze medal at Euro 2015 on 21 June at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. It was important for the Federation to maintain the link with the French public....
"Finally, in case of qualification for the Olympics, we plan to give some rest to the players before going to South America."
The players are to have their medical tests from 5-7 June in Paris and will then hold their first training camp in Strasbourg 8-13 June. The following camp will be 14-18 June in Pau, during which France will take on Latvia - the team they beat in last year's EuroBasket Quarter-Finals - at the city's Sports Palace.
After a three-day camp in Paris starting 19 June, France will take on Serbia. Next France will train in Belgrade before squaring off on 25 June against Serbia, who host another of the OQTs.
Collet's team will then have another training camp back in France, in Rouen, before playing the Belgrade OQT-bound Japanese. The last training camp for France will run from 29 June to 4 July in Manila.