France's Petro Puts Career On Hold

13 June 2014

FIBA BASKETBALL WORLD CUP

Johan Petro (France)
Johan Petro has been suffering from a back injury for some time

EuroBasket 2013 champion Johan Petro should be over the moon this summer but instead his - immediate at least - future is mired by uncertainty.

Petro returned to the senior French national team last September and helped France conquer an historic first gold medal at EuroBasket in Slovenia.

The 28-year-old big man then joined French Pro A side Limoges and, less than nine months after being crowned EuroBasket champion, became part of yet another achievement for the history books.

The storied club, which had been tormented by off the-court problems since the turn of the century, celebrated a first league title in 13 years, in only their second campaign after their return to the French top flight.

Petro had previously won one Pro A league title in 2004, with Pau Orthez, but the 2013/14 campaign was by far the most successful of his career.

Except there is a possibility it might have also been the last, because the big man is being forced to take a break from basketball because of a back injury.

It is not yet easy to pinpoint the exact duration of his absence from action.

"I do not know how long it will take, but playing at 75% of my potential is no longer possible," Petro explained in an interview with the France Antilles newspaper.

"I'm going home to Florida to strengthen my body. This may take two, three or six or as many months as necessary.

"Even if I quit basketball for six months, I am still young, especially for a pivot.

"My size will not go away. I want to feel again like the explosive Johan Petro that New Jersey [Nets] wanted to play for them."

Johan Petro (France)
Johan Petro will return to his home in U.S.A to recuperate

Petro started the season feeling some pain and his physical condition deteriorated towards the latter stages of Limoges's campaign.

He went from averaging 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in the regular season to having limited participation in the play-off finals against Strasbourg, where he featured for only a few minutes.

"I wanted to contribute more, but the timing in relation to my back problems was not ideal," Petro explained.

"This injury followed me from China (Petro played for Zhejiang Guangsha in the Chinese league last season).

"The floor at the home arena of Limoges, which was laid out on top of cement, did not help either.

"I lost my explosiveness and my speed was affected."

Ironically, Petro was included in the French team that triumphed at the EuroBasket in replacement for Ludovic Vaty, who was forced into premature retirement last summer because of a heart condition.

Petro however is adamant that he will not follow the same fate as Vaty, but he will rather return to action playing at his best level.

"I have a revenge to take, I will be back stronger," he stated.

"I will return to the Pro A and when I do, I will show my true level."

As a consequence of his injury, Petro was not included in France's 17-strong preliminary squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014, which tips off in Spain in August.

Tony Parker had already announced he was going to take a well-deserved holiday this summer, after serving the national team every single year throughout his career, and is the other absentee on this list from the EuroBasket-winning French team.

Les Bleus captain Boris Diaw who, together with Parker, is one step away from celebrating the conquest of the NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs, has been granted permission to join his France team-mates during the last stage of preparations but will participate normally at the World Cup, head coach Vincent Collet confirmed on Friday.


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