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Tony Parker plays last game for France on home soil
by rick olivares pic from Federation Francaise De Basketball
French basketball fans watched Les Bleus’ final tune-up match on home soil, a 91-74 victory over Japan at the Kindarena in Rouen, France. It also marked the last time that point guard Tony Parker will play for the national team in front of a home crowd. Should France qualify for the Olympics, Parker’s last game will be in Rio, Brazil.
French basketball officials felt that Japan provided a suitable approximation of the opposition they will face against the Philippines. Except for Japanese center Yuta Tabuse, not much is known about the players who comprise head coach Kenji Hasegawa’s squad.
Japan’s shooters got away with a lot of outside shots in the first half before the French played with much better defensive intensity. Behind Thomas Heurtel and Nado De Colo, Les Bleus closed out the first half with some big shots and a 54-31 lead. Parker had a rather quiet evening in Rouen scoring six points and dishing three assists. The French coasted to a win.
Post-match, Parker with a microphone in hand and accompanied by Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus, praised his fans one and made a promise: “For French basketball, we'll go up 'at the end.”
“We could not imagine a better friendly match than the game against Japan,” pronounced France head coach Vincent Collet post-match. “The Japanese play a very protective zone which explains our numerous shots at three-points. My players didn’t take some shots because I asked them to be patient. These matches are important moments of evaluation but these aren’t the only ones. Tonight, Mickael Gelabale showed us that he was ready to play.”
“The Japanese play a similar game to the Filipinos and I am glad for our defense against the three point shots of which the Filipinos are madmen,” added Collet. “I feel every day we advance a little better."
“This is what you will find in the Philippines,” surmised Parker of the friendly match versus Japan. “A team that will play small and quick basketball and who will try to outsmart us. It was a serious game and a good workout. We will use our experience while respecting everyone. Personally, it was important for me to greet them as they have accompanied me in all my competitions. And what was important is they were here tonight.”
"A giant prepares to bow out. And Rio must be its ultimate destination,” said Collet about Parker.