French basketball players are playing their last three preparation matches in the Hexagon from Thursday to Saturday in Villeurbanne against Montenegro, Brazil and Argentina, before flying to China where the World Cup begins in two weeks.
The Blues will want to gain strength after two insignificant matches, the first lost against Turkey (74-69) after only a few days of training on August 5 in Pau, and the second won against modest Tunisia on August 7 in Toulouse ( 94-56).
The coach Vincent Collet will have to reduce his group - probably thirteen names at first - before the start in China, to get closer to the final list of twelve who will be on the scoresheet against Germany on September 1 in Shenzhen (south), in a first game of the World Cup already crucial.
One of the uncertainties concerns the position of third leader since the Thomas Heurtel forfeit, operated knee and absent from four to six months. Elie Okobo (Phoenix Suns) was recalled to join Andrew Albicy and Frank Ntilikina. But the young Theo Maledon, in theory simple training partner of the 15 preselected, is also candidate. Villeurbannais, 18, played 15 minutes and scored 14 points against Tunisia. Amath M'Baye and Louis Labeyrie are also fighting for a place inside.
The group recovers Nando De Colo and Axel Toupane, both resting for two weeks for muscular lesions in the right calf.
The French will finish their preparation with a tournament in Shenyang (North China) where they will face New Zealand (August 24), Italy (August 25) and Serbia (August 27).
At the World Cup, the Blues will play two group stages, the first in Shenzhen against Germany, Jordan and the Dominican Republic, and the second in Nanjing against the top two in a very strong group (Australia, Lithuania, Canada, Senegal ) before, hopefully, to play in a quarter-final.
© 2019 AFP