France Coach Commeres Has Low Expectations

29 June 2005
From Isabelle Rondeau, PA International

France coach Jacques Commeres believes inexperience and numerous distractions give his side very little chance of winning a medal at the U20 European Championship for Men in Moscow next month.

The French lost three consecutive matches to Russia (83-68), Greece (74-64) and the Czech Republic (64-63) in a preparation tournament that took place on the Greek island of Syros over the weekend, and Commeres told PA International: "The qualification to the second stage of the Euro will be very tough to get.

"We have had a very short preparation and it's been difficult for us to build up on a game.

"We've shown good periods of play but failed to be consistent enough throughout any of our games."

Commeres believes his players simply have not logged enough minutes in international competitions to be able to compete with Europe's best squads next week.

"We don't have much experience," he added, "what we lack is the experience of international basketball.

"My players have athletic and technical qualities but they need that little extra thing to be able to win.

"We must defend better and be more patient offensively.

"The good thing about the tournament in Greece is that it gave us that sort of experience as my guys had to be confronted to very tough matches in a difficult context."

On top of having a short time to prepare his men, Commeres has recently had to deal with injuries and drafts of some players in the NBA.

In Greece, he was without Yannick Bokolo, who injured his shoulder against Germany in Vittel.

The youngster will be back at the weekend for their last preparation event in Lyon where they will take on Italy in two contests.

However, Commeres will have to do without Chalon's Mickael Mokongo, who needs surgery on his knee and will miss out on the Euro.

Johan Petro of Pau Orthez and Ian Mahinmi of Le Havre, meanwhile, have missed most of the preparation while getting ready for the NBA Draft.

Both were taken late in the first round, Petro by Seattle, and Mahinmi by San Antonio.

Commeres hopes they will be back with the national side before the start of next week.

"We are in a waiting situation at the moment," added Commeres.

"But with all that, it's difficult to have a team that is used to play together."

France will start their Euro championships on July 8 against Slovenia before taking on Russia on the ninth and Croatia the following day.

"I fear all three teams," Commeres said.

"Qualification to the next round will be very difficult.

"But if we manage to do it, then it will have probably been after very tough battles.

"At the Euro, the level of play is going to be extremely high.

"The other teams are at the level of the professional outfits.

"In the current state of affairs with our team, I think the focus will be on its coherence and its organisation rather than on the elaboration of any strategic plan to progress to the next stage.

"The good thing about the Euro is that it will allow my players to gain that international experience they are missing so much and get as close as possible to what real basketball is."

Before travelling to Russia, France will play two matches against Italy in Lyon on Saturday and Sunday.

"We will try to play more as a team," Commeres added.

"The fact that there were not so many decisive crosses in our recent matches show that the players are not used to playing with each other.

"This is what we are going to try to improve."

Commeres will then announce his final team ahead of the Euro on Monday.

"Against Italy this weekend, the team will be less open and the aim will be to decide on the right combinations ahead of the Euro," he said.

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