27 Jul
    10 Aug 2024

    Wemby headlines 19-man France squad for the Olympics

    PARIS (France) - Hosts France will be loaded with star power when they take aim at Olympic gold on home soil this summer with 19 players set to battle it out for the 12 spots in the team.

    PARIS (France) - Hosts France will be loaded with star power when they take aim at Olympic gold on home soil this summer with 19 players set to battle it out for the 12 spots in the team. The training camp promises to be very intense.


    Victor Wembanyama, coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs,  and Minnesota's Rudy Gobert, who just claimed his fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor, are all but certain to feature for France. Their alliance in the paint, particularly on defense, is likely to pose a significant challenge for any team worldwide.

    But Vincent Collet will have to make some very difficult choices to name his final12. What's clear is that the head coach is uncertain about the point guard spot. He has included seven in the squad. Training camp is where places in the team are to be won and lost.

    That's even true for legend Nando de Colo, 37 in June, who was France starting point guard and arguably their best player at the Tokyo Games, where he led the team to the Final. France beat the Americans (83-76) on opening day of the Olympic tournament in Japan yet the USA edged Les Bleus, 87-82, in the Final.

    "Initially, we had a list of 16 players, but uncertainties led us to have a slightly larger list", said Vincent Collet in the press conference. "The list was expanded, with the extension primarily focused on the perimeter positions.

    "This concerns the point guard position, but not only that. It truly pertains to the entire perimeter. Our team identity construction will revolve around establishing an impregnable defense. We've chosen players who excel in this profile."

    Reflecting on a disappointing World Cup last summer, the French head coach expressed regret over not selecting veteran Andrew Albicy. Hailed as a hero during Qualifying Windows, the point guard brings leadership, defensive prowess, and altruism to the squad — core values sorely missed in the 2023 campaign.

    Other point guards named in the 19 are Killian Hayes, Nadir Hifi, Theo Maledon, Frank Ntilikina and Matthew Strazel.

    Nic Batum has a chance to become a four-time Olympian (2012, 2016, 2020)  but the forward must prove himself worthy in camp. He looked very sharp in the NBA playoffs with Philadelphia. One player that helped himself with a terrific season with Panathinaikos Athens was the 2.06m center Mathias Lessort.

    Bilal Coulibaly, also a rookie this season with the Washington Wizards, had a dazzling year and will garner serious consideration for a spot. The 2.03m shooting guard/small forward will celebrate his 20th birthday the day before the Olympics.

    France 19-man squad for Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris

    Andrew Albicy Nic Batum Isaïa Cordinier Bilal Coulibaly
    Nando de Colo Ousmane Dieng Evan Fournier Rudy Gobert
    Killian Hayes Nadir Hifi Jaylen Hoard Mathias Lessort
    Theo Maledon Frank Ntilikina Elie Okobo Vincent Poirier 
    Matthew Strazel Victor Wembanyama Guerschon Yabusele  

    Collet has always placed a premium on experience and commitment to the national team yet the talent at his disposal with the up-and-coming players that have played sparingly or not at all for France could make it very difficult to choose the final 12.

    France are in Group B with Germany, Japan and the team that wins the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga.


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