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FRA - French head to FIBA U17 Worlds with motivation and great humility

PARIS (FIBA U17 World Championship) - France head into the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship as a motivated group but also one with great humility about their prospects of taking home some hardware.

"First things first, we finished fifth at the U16 European Championship in 2013, so we know that we only just made it here. Despite that, we are very motivated and will want to win every game once we hit the floor," said France coach Frederic Crapez.

"We approach this competition with great humility. Despite that, we will play with passion and pride in order to try to perform at our best."

France lost to Greece in the U16 European Quarter-Finals and then needed to beat Germany and Croatia to grab fifth place and the final European spot on offer for the U17 Worlds.

For the tournament taking place in Dubai from 8-16 August, Crapez's team has been drawn into Group B with Japan, Canada and Australia, which poses the French with an interesting test.

"We will be playing against (teams from) three different continents in three days. What a great opportunity to witness all of these great international players in the mix," said Crapez.

"We know that Japan, Canada and Australia will all prove to be a great challenge for us."

One of France's leaders will be power forward Stephane Gombauld, who led the French U16 team in scoring (16.0), rebounding (8.8), steals (2.0) and blocks (1.0) last summer.

"Stephane is obviously a bright young player who is improving every year. He has been playing for the national team for two years now and his experience and talent will be very important for the team," said the coach.

"Being such a young player, he has much to improve. But he brings a lot to the court. He is aggressive, he rebounds, he scores. But he knows he still has a long way to go and that he has many areas of his game that he needs to work on."

Crapez said Gombauld playing at the Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) qualifying tournament for INSEP in Belgrade was a huge help in his development.

"Obviously tournaments like the NIJT provide a huge opportunity for all these young players to display their talent and to improve and compete against some of the brightest talents around," Crapez said of the 2.01m forward, who was named to the Belgrade NIJT All-Tournament Team after leading INSEP to the final.

Two other leaders for Crapez will be Luc Loubaki and Arthur Leboeuf.

"Loubaki and Leboeuf have also been on the national team for a couple of years now. These young players are gathering great international experience at such a young age," said Crapez.

"Obviously, they will have an important role to play this summer. But as we said about Stephane, the same goes for Luc and Arthur. Let's not forget that no individual is more important than the team."

When asked what the keys for his team are to be successful, Crapez listed solid rebounding, running the court and defending with passion.

"But as a whole, we will not perform at a high level if we don't play as a team on both ends of the court," he warned.