|10 July 2013|
|More headache for Vincent Collet, as Rudy Gobert is the next center to say 'no' to playing at EuroBasket 2013 |
France head coach Vincent Collet must be thinking he has fallen victim of a very bad practical joke, as hardly a day goes by without the announcement of another French center becoming unavailable to play at EuroBasket 2013.
A day after veteran Ronny Turiaf made public his decision to not follow Les Bleus to Slovenia this summer in an interview with L'Equipe, Collet himself revealed in the same newspaper that his first option as a reserve at the '5' spot, Rudy Gobert, will undergo surgery in a few days and will also miss the EuroBasket.
The 21-year-old Gobert was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 22nd overall pick in the NBA draft in June, but was traded immediately to the Utah Jazz.
"He has a major problem, he will be operated in his foot at the end of the Summer League [after 12 July], it was already scheduled," said Collet of the 2.13m center.
"We will look at all possible solutions," the coach added with regards to the problem at the center position that France are facing.
Alexis Ajinca of Pro A finalists Strasbourg is currently the only pure center at the disposal of Collet.
The French staff are considering calling upon players who were initially left out of the preliminary squad, such as Johan Passave-Ducteil of Nanterre, Michel Jean-Baptiste-Adolphe of Elan Chalon, Johan Petro of the Atlanta Hawks or Mouhammadou Jaiteh of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
The 18-year-old is currently in action with France at the Sportland U20 European Championship and has been touted as the center of Les Bleus for the next decade, but might make his debut with the senior national team much earlier than anticipated.
"You can actually choose to promote young players, since with the Federation we also have our sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and in this context, a boy like Mouhammadou comes to mind," Collet admitted.
France's biggest star, Tony Parker, has shown an enviable commitment to the national team every summer throughout his career, despite usually coming off long and exhausting NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.
This, Collet points out, seems not to be the case with everyone else any more.
"I note a break from the tradition of commitment to the blue jersey," the coach said.
"Even when someone cites good reasons, which are perfectly understandable, it is ultimately still their choice."
French centers Kevin Seraphin and Ian Mahinmi chose to follow individual training programmes this summer rather than join the national team, while Joakim Noah and Ali Traore cited health reasons after a very tough club season as the reason for pulling out of France's EuroBasker campaign.
Meanwhile Ludovic Vaty, who had a break-out season with BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, had to put an end to his basketball career prematurely because of a heart problem diagnosed at the end of the club season.
France will go up against Germany, Ukraine, Israel, Great Britain and Belgium in First Round Group A at EuroBasket 2013.