|04 August 2013|
|Nicolas Batum scored 14 points in France's win over Finland|
A gutsy Finland pushed France to their limits on Friday in Pau, during the first friendly game of Les Bleus in preparation for EuroBasket 2013 and held a 52-44 lead at the half-time interval.
But the hosts turned up a notch their pace in the second half and their captain Boris Diaw paved the way to a 101-93 victory with an all-round display of 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting, seven assists and seven rebounds.
Diaw got help from Nicolas Batum who had 14 points and six rebounds, Kim Tillie with 13 points and Joffrey Lauvergne, who chipped in with 11 points, while a discreet Tony Parker finished with 10 points and three assists.
Sharp-shooting Petteri Koponen was in fantastic form for the Finns and collected a game-high 22 points and nine assists, while veteran Hanno Möttölä finished with 17 points and four rebounds and Sasu Salin with Tuukka Kotti had 12 points apiece.
France head coach Vincent Collet was not alarmed by the fact the encounter was such a high-scoring affair.
"Finland play nice basketball and can shoot the ball well," the French coach commented, and added that "at the start of our preparations we have been focusing on the offensive part of our game and the positive points from this friendly game was our circulation of the ball, when we get it moving we can find open looks and take good shots."
Also on Friday, Collet decided to reduce his preliminary squad for the EuroBasket to 15 players, by cutting guards Yannick Bokolo and Edwin Jackson.
Bokolo was a member of the French team that competed in last year's London Olympics while Jackson had only suited up for the senior national team at the 2010 World Championship, but had an outstanding club season in the French Pro A this year and was hoping to carve up a spot for himself on the team that will travel to Slovenia.
Collet however explained that he had to make this tough choice due to a surplus of perimeter players.
"We effectively have 11 backcourt players for seven spots on the team, so it made more sense to let go of two perimeter players and maintain all the frontcourt players at this stage," the coach of the EuroBasket 2011 silver medallists said.
"Yannick and Edwin are simply paying the price for the strong competition [for these posts] that we have seen throughout the first days of trainign camp.
"It is always a difficult task for the coach to exclude players, especially now with Yannick and Edwin who have been exemplary and were totally worthy of being on the team."
After the warm-up game with Finland, Parker has been granted a few days of rest and will re-join his France team-mates in training on Thursday.
"I've had a lot of obligations, but physically I do not feel too bad," the tireless San Antonio Spurs point guard said.
"This is not the first time that I go to the NBA finals and then I continue the summer with France," Parker, who has not missed out on a single EuroBasket tournament since 2001, added.
But the French coaching staff is having none of this and would rather see their star player get a small break now, rather than run the risk of not having him at full strength during September's EuroBasket.
"He arrived tired physically but mentally ready to fight, very motivated, as usual," Collet said.
"We need to be reasonable during the first part of preparations, I cannot tell you exactly how much he will play in the warm-up games, but he will not play 30-35 minutes, that's for sure."
|Youngster Dennis Schröder will not suit up at the EuroBasket in Slovenia|
HARRIS, SCHRÖDER WILL NOT PLAY FOR GERMANY
When new Germany head coach Frank Menz announced his preliminary squad for EuroBasket 2013, he had not included youngsters Elias Harris and Dennis Schröder, but had commented that they might join the team at a latter stage.
On Saturday however the German basketball federation announced that both players, who are preparing for their rookie NBA season, will not return to Germany after playing in the Summer League in the USA.
Instead, Harris will do the pre-season with the Los Angeles Lakers while Schröder will join the Atlanta Hawks.
"I think the outcome of our discussions [with the Lakers and the Hawks] is good for us in the medium and long term," Menz said.
"We plan our future with Elias and Dennis, and it is very important that we have a good relationship with their respective clubs from the beginning.
"Also, I am confident that we will send a strong team to the EuroBasket this year even without Elias and Dennis."
THREE JOIN GREAT BRITAIN CAMP
Forward Ashley Hamilton will not make a second EuroBasket appearance with Great Britain this September, as he has suffered an injury that will keep him sidelined for approximately six weeks.
In his place, Great Britain head coach Joe Prunty has called Gareth Murray, of Scotland.
Youngsters Jamell Anderson and Ali Fraser, who were initially not included in the preliminary squad, were also invited and reported for duty alongside Murray on the first day of training camp in London.
"I am very pleased to be able to offer these young players the chance to come to the senior camp and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do," Prunty said.