The vast majority of the nations competing at this summer’s Eurobasket have now announced their preliminary squads, and some have even begun their respective training camps.
Out of those nations, France are one of the main standouts. See while news of Spain’s preliminary squad has gathered a great deal of interest over the past week. France have quietly gone about naming their preliminary squad and the list could end up with Les Bleus sending its strongest ever roster to Lithuania.
For me, France is something of a dark-horse. People are expecting them to do well anyway, which is true enough. But not as far as reaching the final in Kaunas on the 18th September, which, of course guarantees you a valuable spot in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Just so we’re clear, the top two teams from Eurobasket automatically get a spot for London 2012.
The French will have their game-faces on to prove those people wrong and that they have what it takes to go all the way.
After an impressive outing in Poland two years ago, where they only qualified as winners of the Additional Qualifying Tournament. France were knocked out by Spain in the quarter-finals, which was their only defeat of the tournament, having won all their preliminary and second-round games.
The squad that coach Vincent Collet has picked for Lithuania has the firepower to go all the way and there are very little weaknesses in his preliminary squad alone.
NBA luminaries Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Joakim Noah and Ronnie Turiaf will no doubt be amongst France’ main stat lines in Lithuania. With Mickael Pietrus, Nicolas Batum and Nando De Colo providing the main support for the French fantastic four.
Collet can also welcome back Le Mans point guard Antoine Diot, after he missed the World Championships in Turkey through injury.
Already, to me that is a strong line-up and we’re only just on half-way through the team. And just think what they can do together? They have a strong rebounding presence in Noah and Turiaf; the latter can score inside, while Noah’s talents will predominantly be used rebounding on both ends and blocking shots. We already know what Parker and Diaw can do.
The big question is how will Joakim Noah adapt to the European style of basketball?
This will be the first time that the Chicago Bulls center has suited up for the national side, and playing in the NBA where the rules are slightly different to FIBA could play a factor here.
I know, I know – we say this about every NBA player that travels to play in Europe either for their national side or their new club in the ACB, Russian Superleague, and Turkish League. But, In the case of Noah, he’s untested here in Europe. The level of physicality and passion that he plays on the court will be tried. No doubt about it.
The extended three-point line means absolutely nothing in this instance. Noah is not a shooter.
What Noah brings to the France team is a traditional big man who bosses the paint, gets rebounds, blocks or alters jump-shots. He’s a defensive presence, that’s what he’s mainly been brought in for. The majority of his points will mainly come off put-backs and tip-ins.
The question is: Will Noah be able to get away with some of the physicality in the paint and the hacking that the referees in the NBA mainly turn a blind eye too? Noah will be playing against experienced big men who know the system inside-and-out. They know what they can get away with, and what they can’t. Noah, as of right now doesn’t. It’s all good telling him in practice, but come game time – it’s a totally different ball game.
Having Noah is a bonus though for coach Collet though, and hopefully, if he is guided along by his colleagues. The Chicago Bull will have no problem doing what he does, and his enthusiasm and drive on the court will help the French in Lithuania.
France have been drawn in Group B alongside Serbia, Latvia, Israel, Germany and Italy. They will look to top that pool, and no doubt will be favourites to as well.
Can they better themselves though and grab that coveted Olympics spot?
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