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NBA: Beware, the French!

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Even without Batum, France is potent.

For all the talk of France’s NBA veterans skipping the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, they still have enough to mount a challenge for one of the last three slots to the Rio Summer Olympics.

Nicolas Batum, the Charlotte Hornets’ guard is now in training camp for head coach Vincent Collett’s squad in Pau, a city in southwest France bordering the Pyrenees mountains with neighboring Spain. France’s camp, that opened in June 10, is happy that Batum is present although he is just limited to drills and workouts while avoiding scrimmages.

There is concern if his paperwork will get done in time for him to board a plane to Manila as he is currently in negotiations with his NBA club. It is those same contractual wrangling that has eliminated Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Ian Mahinmi from participation.
How important is Batum? The six-foot-eight forward was named France’s Best Player during the FIBA World Cup in Spain in 2014.

Without Gobert, Les Bleus’ inside presence, Collett will turn to seven-foot-one center Alexis Ajinca to man the slot. Ajinca was in uniform when France won EuroBasket 2013. He currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA.

Aside from NBA veterans Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Florent Pietrus, France will count of Nando De Colo who is tabbed to be their future leader. The 28-year old shooting guard suits up for CSKA Moscow in the VTB United League in Russia. The aggressive De Colo who was Parker’s teammate in San Antonio from 2012-14 and who also suited up for the Toronto Raptors in 2014, was recently named Euroleague Final Four Most Valuable Player.

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