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France national team Official thread - TalkBasket - 11-12-2016

Quote:France's Gobert expects Les Bleus to remain formidable

SALT LAKE CITY (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - France center Rudy Gobert envisions a smooth transition for the national team when Les Bleus embark on a new era at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 without long-time players Tony Parker, Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus.

The trio that had been very important for the past several years as Les Bleus won numerous medals and qualified twice for the Olympics retired from international basketball after the Rio de Janeiro Games.

"We lose some guys, some guys like Tony, Flo and Mike, but we've got some guys that have been here for many years, Nando (De Colo), Nico (Batum), I don't think our level is going to go down, but there will be a different style of play and it's going to be a different era for sure," Gobert said to "It will be up to us, the young guys, to step up and carry the team."

Parker's is the most high-profile France retirement. A four-time NBA champion with San Antonio, the point guard is also the EuroBasket's all-time leading scorer, a record he claimed last year when his country hosted Group Phase games in Montpellier.

"This is going to be a different era for sure," Gobert said. "Tony is gone. Boris (Diaw) has a few more years, but not that many. It won't be a different team, (just) a different hierarchy."

One important announcement that was made in early September was that Vincent Collet was to remain at the helm of France. He has been the coach since leading France into EuroBasket 2009.

"I think it's a good thing," the Utah Jazz center said. "It's stability, the team will change a little bit but keeping the same coaching and the same way of practicing, it's going to help us in this transition."

Gobert, 24, has been a key man for France since earning a place on the roster for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. His rejection of a Pau Gasol shot in his team's Quarter-Final upset of the hosts was among the most famous plays of the tournament.

Gobert, a 2.16m center, knows much will be expected of him and that he has to work not only on his game.

"I still think I can be more of a leader in the future," he said. "I've become very important for the team and I want to be a leader."

Gobert expects Batum, who wasn't at his best at the Rio Games and endured a terrible Quarter-Final when he attempted just two shots and failed to score against Spain, to be at the core of a successful French team moving forward. Batum has enjoyed a fast start with the Charlotte Hornets, winners of six of their first seven games.

"I think Nic likes to feel that people believe in him and have high expectations and that’s when he plays his best basketball," Gobert said. "He is still a very unselfish player, who when you push him, that's when he's at his best. I think he's a competitor and if you put him in the right situation, he's going to do everything to get you the win."

France are still licking their wounds from their Quarter-Final humiliation in Rio. They had had some memorable battles with Spain in previous years and the French geared up to stop Gasol but Nikola Mirotic and Rudy Fernandez caught fire from long range in the first quarter and propelled their team to victory.

"We always play them, every time in the Quarter-Finals or Semi-Finals," Gobert said. "We know that we're going to play them every time.

"I think we could have played better for sure. We wanted it really bad but I feel like we didn't play hard enough. Spain played very good, you can't take anything away from them. They made shots early and we couldn't come back in the game."