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Vincent Collet on France’s OQT chances: The path will be complex
by rick olivares
While Team France is in the midst of its preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, its head coach, Vincent Collet has plenty to think about.
After the just-concluded NBA Finals where the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors for its first ever championship, Collett is feeling a little deja vu.
Last June 11, Collet’s Strasbourg team was defeated in the finals of the Ligue National de basket Pro A or LNB Pro A for short, after spotting Asvel a 2-0 lead in the finals. Asvel’s team president is none other than current San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker who also plays for Collet in the French national team.
Collet’s Strasbourg were unlucky finalists in the last four years losing to Nanterre, Limoges twice, and then Asvel. And now, he faces the unenviable task of bringing Les Bleus to the Rio Olympics. Four days after Strasbourg’s loss, on the same day that Collet addressed the media regarding France’s preparations for the OQT, he was let go by his club team.
Collett, who has overseen the national team since 2009, brushed matters aside to focus on France’s mission that has been dubbed “Mission: Rio.”
Collet said that he isn’t sure if he should list Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum. Evan Fournier, and Ian Mahinmi who are all renegotiating their NBA contracts. Said the coach, “From 1 to 7 July is the contract signing period for NBA teams. The players must remain in the US to meet the demands. What is unfortunate is that FIBA knowing these dates, has put the OQT at that time. If the tournament were held earlier, I think our players could be here.”
The French are mulling on taking a chance of listing them should they become suddenly available. “We are in a phase of reflection,” Collet pointed out. “It will be complicated because we will have to change the team. I think because our qualification team is reduced, we are less likely to win. The path will be complex.”
With four NBA and national team stalwarts unavailable, Collet will bank on Euroleague Most Valuable Player Nando De Colo, Parker, Boris Diaw, Florent Pietrus, and Leo Westermann among others for their campaign that will see them face the Philippines and New Zealand in Group B action that tips off on July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.