#FIBAOQT: France building up for Manila OQT

(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

The circumstances have not been ideal for France with player withdrawals and late arrivals but the pieces are nevertheless being putting in place for Les Bleus to have a strong showing at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila.

In their first warm-up game for the OQT, the team played Latvia in Pau and won, 89-72.

Next will be a game against Serbia on Tuesday at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris.






With players like point guard Thomas Heurtel having only just arrived and linked up with the national side, the French beat the Latvians. Adrien Moerman had 17 points while Edwin Jackson, who has come out of retirement from the national team to play for his country and attempt to make the OQT squad, contributed 10.

France shot the ball exceptionally well from 3-point range, connecting on 9 of 16 attempts (56 percent) with eight players hitting the mark. The best all-round performance was turned in by Boris Diaw.

The long-time NBA player and national team captain had 13 points and 9 assists. He finished with a game-high player evaluation of 27.

Diaw has been vital for France over the years, including the teams that finished third at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and third at last year's EuroBasket.





Because of injuries and withdrawals, France sent out an S.O.S. to Jackson and asked him to play. A member of the team that reached the podium in Spain two years ago, Jackson was left out of the EuroBasket 2015 squad and decided to call it a day with the national side.

"I put aside my past disappointments and my personal views to try to help players like Florent Pietrus or Tony Parker prepare for the OQT," Jackson said. "With injuries to Yakouba Ouattara, Fabien Causeur, I was asked (to join the team). I said yes immediately."

For France to reach the Rio de Janeiro Games, they must win the OQT in Manila. They will take on the Philippines and New Zealand in Group B and then, if they finish in the top two, square off against Turkey, Senegal or Canada out of Group A in a Semi-Final.

The Semi-Final winners will ultimately play in a do-or-die game for Olympic qualification. France played at the 2012 Olympics and reached the Quarter-Finals.


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