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Baldwin: France remains strong

Even without Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert, France remains a formidable opponent in the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament set July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that the French team is still as dangerous even if decides to play minus the two NBA veterans since it has players with NBA experience or with quality to make it to the league.

“I don’t think it does anything to our chances. Our chances stay exactly the same,” Baldwin said.

The 7-1 Gobert of the Utah Jazz and the 6-8 Batum of the Charlotte Hornets are likely to skip the OQT, where the winning team will earn a spot in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in August. Also questionable for France is veteran forward Boris Diaw of the San Antonio Spurs.

Still, the French squad has players with NBA experience.

“They may not have the NBA athleticism or length, but in terms of effectiveness as players, their commitment to the national team and their experience in international basketball, there’s no real drop off,” said Baldwin.

“Star quality isn’t what European coaches look for. They like to have it, they like to have the talent, but they’re much more about cohesion and chemistry.”