Devastated French Lose Abdul-Wahad

16 September 2003
From Isabelle Rondeau, PA International, Paris

The fall-out from France’s Olympic knockout at the European Championships gathered momentum on Tuesday with Tariq Abdul-Wahad’s announcement that he no longer wants to play for Les Bleus.

Eurobasket 2003 was supposed to herald a new era in French basketball because of the impact of NBA players Abdul-Wahad, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Jerome Moiso but the team left Sweden as underachievers.

France had a cast of European-based players when they captured the silver medal at the last Olympics.

Yet this group have failed to even qualify for next year’s Athens Games.

For me we didn’t deserve more than what we got
Tariq Abdul-Wahad
On Monday, French basketball bosses expressed uncertainty over the future of national team coach Alain Weisz, who is contracted to lead the team through the Olympics.

"For me the national team is finished, it's over," 28-year-old Abdul-Wahad, a player with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, told Tuesday’s Le Parisien.

"It’s now necessary to think about something else. What disappoints me is that we failed to go to the end of our commitment and motivation. We have to accept the verdict with humility.”

France suffered a terminal decline in their 74-70 semi-final defeat against eventual champions Lithuania.

The crucial mistake was committed by Parker, the starting point guard on the NBA champions San Antonio Spurs, who turned the ball over with the game in the balance near the end.

Then, against Italy in the bronze medal game, Parker again failed to deliver with a running layup as the final seconds ticked away, preserving a 69-67 triumph for Italy.

"This is a disappointment (their fourth-place finish) but I don't want to call it huge,” Abdul-Wahad said.

"I don't think that we deserved to win our last two matches with the level of basketball we produced.

"If we had played a coherent way I would have been extremely disappointed. We were on the right track but we didn’t produce the quality of game that was required at such a high European level.

"For me we didn’t deserve more than what we got. We had enough talent to go to the end if we played well. This was not the case and that's our fault."

Abdul-Wahad averaged 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists in his six games at the European Championships.

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