By Cindy Garcia-Bennett
Tony Parker intends to keep playing for France’s national team despite their EuroBasket failure in Madrid.
The NBA Finals MVP had 31 points on Sunday but it wasn’t enough to lead the French past Slovenia, who won 88-74 to finish in seventh place and claim the final berth on offer to European sides for next year’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” said Parker.
“Basketball is weird sometimes. We had the game, we were up by six or seven points in the fourth quarter and then we were hit by eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and they killed us.”
|Claude Bergeaud couldn't get France into the addtional Olympic qualifying tournament.|
France could have beaten Russia in their semi-final but Parker and Boris Diaw missed late free throws as they slipped to a 75-71 defeat.
The French then lost back-to-back classification games, including on Sunday to Slovenia.
“We were doing great,” Parker said. “We were third in 2005 and finished fifth at the world championship.
“We were looking for some stability and to try to go to the Olympics and now we are back to zero. It’s kind of tough, we just have to use this as experience.”
France finished fourth at EuroBasket 2003, losing a close game to Italy, and that result prevented them from playing at the Athens Games.
In 2000, they won the silver medal in Sydney.
France will have plenty of time to recover from this disappointment as their next task will be to qualify for the EuroBasket 2009, which will be hosted in Poland.
“We are young, I’m 25, everybody can come back,” said Parker. “But it’s very disappointing, you don’t have a lot of chances to go to the Olympics and that was my second and we didn’t make it so I’ll try again.”
Parker leaves the tournament having averaged 20.1 points per game.
“It’s very different from NBA basketball, I just love the challenge and the opportunity to go to the Olympics,” he said.
Fabricio Oberto and Manu Ginobili both elected not to play for Argentina this summer and rested instead.
But the two Spurs were not missed as their national team won silver at the FIBA Americas Championship.
“I need some rest definitely. Pop (Gregg Popovich) watched some of my games so he knows I need some rest.”