|12 August 2013|
|France Head Coach Vincent Collet was left with some tough calls, particularly involving up-and-coming talents Evan Fournier and Leo Westermann|
France head coach Vincent Collet has announced the 12-man squad that will board the plane to Slovenia for EuroBasket 2013, and it includes some surprises.
Youngsters Evan Fournier and Leo Westermann, as well as forward/center Kim Tillie are the three players to have been left out of the final French squad.
While Tillie had not featured in the last two friendly games of Les Bleus and his omission did not come as an enormous surprise, many expected the Denver Nuggets combo guard and the Partizan Belgrade playmaker to make their debut with the senior national team in September's EuroBasket.
"Evan had little time to show us what he could do, and although in the last few games he improved and started to play more freely, it was still not enough to make us change our mind about what we had seen before," Collet explained.
"The decision was taken on Saturday night (before France suffered their first defeat in a warm-up game, to Greece)."
The French coach also revealed that his biggest doubt had to do with Westermann, but in the end he preferred to include Laboral Kutxa point guard Thomas Heurtel in the team.
"Indecision reigned until the end on the final spot," Collet admitted.
"Thomas was pretty good against Germany in Mannheim and against Croatia on Saturday, but still a bit flat defensively.
"Until that point Leo Westermann had done what was expected of him.
"[But] we are building the French team here, we are not selecting the best eight sprinters to run the 100m final, we are trying to make the strongest team possible, and cohesion is important.
"They are different players: Thomas is more creative while Leo has an advantage as an organiser.
"Leo Westermann displayed a lot of maturity in his game, but I did not feel he pulled his weight in a more difficult context."
Collet is cautious, but confident that the 12 men he has selected will do a great job in representing France in September's big event.
"We have ambitions that are high, but at the highest European level you are quickly called back to reality, this is where yesterday's game [Sunday's defeat to Greece] is an important step in our preparations," the tactician said.
"We knew that whichever players we choose out of these, we could not go wrong.
"These are all good players who can do their best to help France.
"It is important to work on the team in its entirety and we still have a lot of work left to do on our backbone as a team to be at the level of the Greeks, for example.
"The challenge for us is to improve gradually so that we will be able to win games in a little over three weeks."
France were drawn into First Round Group A at EuroBasket 2013, together with Israel, Germany, Great Britain, Ukraine and Belgium.
The French squad for EuroBasket consists of Nicolas Batum, Antoine Diot, Johan Petro, Charles Kahudi, Tony Parker, Florent Pietrus, Nando De Colo, Boris Diaw, Alexis Ajinca, Mickaël Gelabale, Joffrey Lauvergne and Thomas Heurtel.