|15 September 2003|
France captain Tony Parker blasted his side's lack of commitment in failing to climb the European Championships podium to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
France, among the favourites to win the championships in Sweden, were left stunned and dismayed after being upset 69-67 by Italy in their bid for bronze on Sunday.
“At the start of the match there were some players who were not ready, we felt that they were not really eager to play,” Parker said.
“Without that it is obvious that we could not do anything, I could not do everything on my own.
“The Italians clearly showed that they were more motivated than us. If some guys did not want to play we could not do anything.”
||I don’t know what happened in my players’ heads
Parker had been named the team’s charismatic leader after winning the NBA title with San Antonio Spurs and, with Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Dallas Mavericks), Jerome Moiso (Toronto Raptors) and Boris Diaw (Atlanta Hawks) also in harness, the French were widely tipped to triumph in Stockholm.
But one day after being stung by a Lithuanian comeback in the semi-final - Parker had a costly turnover at the end of that loss - he missed a layup that would brought his side level with just five seconds left in the game.
The defeat was equally hard to take for coach Alain Weisz.
“We lost everything in that one match,” he said.
“The first half should have been more energetic so not to leave space to the Italian side.
“Instead the opposite of that happened, we let them take control and it boosted their confidence.
“Despite a better performance in the second half it was not enough, we died by two points.
“As a coach I tried to find the right team, I rotated everyone to build up a coherent side.
“I thought I had it in the second half but we were trailing by 10 points and it was hard to catch up.
“I don’t know what happened in my players’ heads. We had good elements.
“There were a lot of young players even if we had managed a good mix with experienced ones”.