|03 May 2013|
|Nando De Colo could be sitting between different big men to these pictured when France arrive in Slovenia|
French international Nando De Colo has expressed his certainty that 'Les Bleus' will field a strong team at EuroBasket 2013 regardless of who plays at center for them in Slovenia.
"For the team, the most important thing is to focus on the players who will be there," De Colo told sport24.com.
"No matter what, we are certainly not going [to Slovenia] with a second-rate team."
The San Antonio Spurs guard's comments come in the wake of Washington Wizards big man Kevin Seraphin's announcement that he will not report for international duty this summer, citing as a reason his intention to follow an individual training program.
"I understand all arguments," De Colo said of Seraphin's explanation.
"Whether to promote an individual contract or undergo physical training, each one can make their own choices.
"He [Seraphin] had to talk to [head coach] Vincent Collet and Tony [Parker] and Boris [Diaw], to also have their opinion.
"So far I have not had a problem [to play for France] but, that said, it can happen in the future and it does not mean that we deny France, as some may think about Kevin.
"You must put yourself in his place, it is not easy and it was not a decision that he took just like that."
France's first-choice center meanwhile, Joakim Noah, is battling a plantar fascitis problem and playing through the pain to assist the Chicago Bulls in the NBA play-offs.
"I know all eyes [in France] are on me right now," Noah said following his team's 95-92 defeat at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, which tied the first-round play-off series at 3-3.
"But I am playing the play-offs injured right now and it's not the time to talk about it [the EuroBasket].
"To play in a tournament like that, I need to be 100%. I will not play for France if I'm not ready."
De Colo would definitely prefer to see Noah boarding the plane to Slovenia, but at the same time France have the depth to make up for any absence.
"Obviously, when we won a medal (silver at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania) we had Joakim [Noah] in the side," he said.
"Of course, if we have him again, the better it will be.
"But it will not be a reason to start crying if he is not there.
"There are other players behind; they might not be as big or as tough as Joakim or Kevin, of course, but they can certainly contribute."
SAN ANTONIO'S WINNING CULTURE
De Colo is getting his first taste of the NBA play-offs already in his rookie season, as the Spurs swept the Los Angeles Lakers in their first-round series and will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semi-finals.
"I'm trying to earn playing time during this period, to carve up a spot for me in this championship," the French guard said.
"It was the same with my debut in France or in Spain (De Colo played domestically in both countries before joining the Spurs).
"So obviously, you have to start anew every time, but that's how it works.
"Of course it's not easy, but who said it was going to be easy?"
De Colo explains that, under coach Gregg Popovich, the atmosphere at the club remains more or less the same during the post-season.
"As far as practice is concerned, not much has changed since the Regular Season at San Antonio," he said.
"I think it is not necessarily that different to the Regular Season, because you always have to win every game with the Spurs."
"But all details are really highlighted now, because you know you will have to play at least four games against a specific team.
"Training sessions are focusing more on the team that we will face during the series.
"But our style of play, everyone knows here and knows how to play.
"You do really feel a difference in intensity during the play-off games, though.
"It is as if another championship begins, teams are really concentrated and see that their goal is really not that far."