Coach Vincent Colette and general manager Boris Diao evaluated the France team’s strategy for the two matches against Montenegro and Portugal, which are scheduled as part of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers, for both other teams awaiting it at the end of August, and also for the EuroBasket which will start in Cologne on 1Verse September. Two competitions of this caliber in the same summer, it never happened. This is one of the consequences – we would write “damage” – a guarantee of the Covid-19 pandemic, which postponed the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and, accordingly, the EuroBasket for a year.
Barely turning off the lanterns of Match 5 of the Betclic Elite Final, Villeurbannais Elie Okobo and Paul Lacombe, as well as their unfortunate Monegasque opponent Yakuba Ouattara, joined the France squad, passed their medicals at ‘INSEP, then huddled together in Maurice Thorez’ room in Nanterre. A short training period and the Blues will fly to Podgorica where they face Montenegro on Friday, before returning to France, welcoming Portugal to the Vendéspace at Mouilleron-le-Captif on Monday.
There is no doubt that the Montenegrin, who were driven away from the French at Pau (73-67) would be tougher than the Hungarians beaten at Kaposvár (54-78).
It’s hard for all of that to get into the comparisons game because, on the one hand, Montenegro is regretting the withdrawal of several high-profile players including Nikola Vucevic, while the Blues have strengthened their manpower strength this winter with reinforcements for NBA players (Peter Cornelli) and Jaylen Hoard, Théo Maledon and Frank Ntilikina) and Euroleague players (Paul Lacombe, Elie Okobo, Yakuba Ouattara and Vincent Poirier). It’s not the typical team, but it looks good despite everything.
Some players have just exited the French Championship final, while others have been resting for several weeks. In what state of health, form, are they?
Boris Diau: Those who finished recently have been able to play since we saw them in Part V of the finale (laughs). For all players, there are no major physical errors. Some pain for some but pain is part of the game! Players always feel pain somewhere.
Vincent Colette: This window is particularly misplaced. for these reasons. It’s not like there is no euro coming in a month! Preparation for the Euro will begin at the end of July, as the seasons lengthen. For example, the LNB party ended on Saturday night when we were already together. On the other hand, there are players who stopped two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and they are obliged to resume, and then some stopped within eight days before resuming preparation for the euro. This window is really complicated. It’s not easy for the players because it’s usually the vacation period.
How to organize neatly with players in a different state of readiness?
Photo: Vincent Poirier (FIBA)