|18 August 2009|
France coach Vincent Collet has swung the ax ahead of the crunch Additional Qualifying Round showdown with the Group A winners that will decide which team claims the last spot at the EuroBasket.
With Nicolas Batum set to return to the French squad following his trip to United States where the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers have looked at his problematic shoulder to make certain he is okay to play, Johan Petro and Edwin Jackson have been let go.
"We have decided to reduce the group to 12 players in order to concentrate and for the players to be in total confidence, in order to avoid an eventual cut," said Collet, whose team has clinched first place in Group B.
"We have decided to let Edwin Jackson and Johan Petro go."
Jackson, a 1.91m shooting guard, is only 19 years of age. He was called into the squad when Tony Parker was forced to fly to the United States to have his ankle injury examined by the his NBA club, San Antonio.
Jackson was in the team when France played the first two games against Italy and Finland, but did not see any action.
"Edwin joined the group when Tony Parker had to go to San Antonio at the last minute," Collet said.
"He adapted to the team and gave a lot to the team with enthusiasm in training, even if he didn´t play the two qualifying games.
"I found it interesting to have a young player in the team that in the future will be on the national team."
Letting the 2.15m center Petro go was a tough decision because of the good attitude displayed by the 23-year-old NBA player this summer.
"With regards to Johan," Collet said, "we decided not to keep him for more defensive reasons than offense. We believed that Ian Mahinmi had a profile that had more mobility and gives an advantage to the national team.
"Johan has had an exceptional behavior during training. I believe he has improved, especially defensively, in the last 15 days, but that was not sufficient for the aims we had set out."
The France players are to gather on August 22 in Paris to start preparing for their all important next two games against Belgium or Bosnia and Herzegovina, the winner of which will advance to the EuroBasket.
If Belgium win in Portugal on Thursday, they will play France. Otherwise, Bosnia and Herzegovina will go up against Les Bleus.