|16 June 2010|
France announced their 18-man preliminary squad for the FIBA World Championship and included four key players that coach Vincent Collet admits he may not be able to count on.
Joakim Noah, the Chicago Bulls center who was deemed the missing piece to last year's EuroBasket squad, was included in Wednesday's list along with Ian Mahinmi of San Antonio, Le Mans guard Antoine Diot and rising Cholet star Kevin Seraphin.
Collet said: "Some uncertainty still prevails around certain players like Joakim Noah and Ian Mahinmi in the renegotiation of (NBA) contracts, Antoine Diot (herniated disc) due to a back injury and Kevin Seraphin, a candidate for the NBA Draft."
Diot and Mahinmi played for France last summer in Poland and helped them clinch fifth place.
The French are likely to have a strong Cholet flavor in the team, with last year's stars Nando De Colo (Power Electronics Valencia) and Rodrigue Beaubois (Dallas Mavericks) both included, as well as LNB Final MVP Mickael Gelabale, guard Fabien Causeur and Seraphin.
Nicolas Batum of Portland, Boris Diaw of Charlotte, Florent Pietrus of Valencia and Ali Traore of ASVEL, who was voted the top French player in the LNB this season, are among the other headline names in the 18-man squad.
France will begin their preparations in Pau on July 25 and finish there with a friendly against Tunisia, a team in Group B at the FIBA World Championship.
Les Bleus will then have two friendlies in Toronto against Canada (August 12-13) before traveling to New York to face Team USA at Madison Square Garden on August 15.
The French will finish their preparations August 22, 23 and 24 in Villeurbanne against Ivory Coast, Australia and Brazil.
Patrick Beesley, the director of Team France, said: "Our participation in the World Championship is part of a project that was established in 2008.
"This project aims to reposition, in 2009 to 2012, France among the best in the world.
"Our program of preparation is organized around three main blocks, the most important being our tour in North America.
"The list of 18 players released today takes into account, of course, the specific situations of certain players (injuries, renegotiation contracts, draft ...)."
France's first game at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey is on August 28 against defending champions Spain - the team that beat then in the Quarter-Finals of last year's EuroBasket.
France preliminary squad: Alexis Ajinca, Nicolas Batum, Rodrigue Beaubois, Yannick Bokolo, Fabien Causeur, Nando De Colo, Boris Diaw, Antoine Diot, Mickaël Gelabale, Edwin Jackson, Alain Koffi, Charles Lombahe-Kahuda, Ian Mahinmi, Joakim Noah, Florent Pietrus, Kevin Seraphin, Ali Traore and Ludovic Vaty.
Replacements: Aldo Curti, Dounia Issa, Aymeric Jeanneau, Abdoulaye M'Baye, Adrien Moerman and Johan Petro.