31 August
17 September, 2017
7 Joffrey Lauvergne (FRA)
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Lauvergne aims for fifth consecutive summer with France national team

OKLAHOMA CITY (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - Putting on the national team jersey of France is always a priority for Joffrey Lauvergne.

The 25-year-old has already achieved a great deal with his country, from reaching the top of the podium in his first summer with the senior side at FIBA EuroBasket 2013 to finishing third at both the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the FIBA EuroBasket 2015.

Last year, Lauvergne was with Les Bleus when they won the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in the Philippines to reach the Rio de Janeiro Games. He also played for the team in Brazil, where they reached the Quarter-Finals before falling to Spain.

Lauvergne spoke to FIBA.com.

Do you intend to play at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 this summer?
Yes, that is a goal for me. I want to play for the national team. Things have been going well for me with the national team and I enjoy spending my summer with the guys from the team and staff.

With the retirement of long-time national team stars Tony Parker, Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus at the Olympics, can we expect a transition period for the French national team?
I don't know, it's difficult to answer that question. We have a lot of talents. A guy like Thomas Heurtel, for example, doesn't play in the NBA but he is a very good player. (Heurtel was one of France's star players at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014 and led the team to an upset of Spain). We have a lot of players who can play in the national team. We need to have everyone available and have a great training camp.

France are in a FIBA EuroBasket 2017 group with Finland, Poland, Iceland, Greece and Slovenia. You beat the Finns in overtime when you hosted FIBA EuroBasket 2015 but this time, they'll be at home in Helsinki. It's not an easy group.
We have a great team, a lot of very talented players but the first thing to think about is to have everyone available to play for the national team. I am sure that we have the talent and the roster to have a great campaign next summer.

So tell us what it was like to play with USA star Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City this season before you got traded to Chicago. He could end up averaging a triple double in points, assists and rebounds.
Having such a high level of performance is impressive, very impressive. Having statistics and averages like the ones he has every night is just unbelievable.

What's the difference between him and other USA stars like James Harden and Stephen Curry, a couple of others who are having amazing seasons?
I think that Russell is everywhere on the court, on both sides of the court. Harden and Curry are very good players but I think that Russ plays with more intensity and pace. That's the difference between him and guys like Curry and Harden.

Before you made the big jump to the NBA and your first club in America, the Denver Nuggets, you made a big jump to Serbia. When you reflect on that experience, how did playing in that environment and for Partizan aid your development in the sport?
I had a great opportunity and it was very nice to go there to improve my game and live an amazing human experience. My path has been a bit particular, as before going to Partizan, no teams wanted me, to being part of the French national team six months after joining Belgrade. Since I decided to go to Serbia, things have gone really fast. I always say that without my experience at Partizan, I probably wouldn’t be in the NBA.