|Back for a 7th EuroBasket: Tony Parker|
TV viewers and spectators at EuroBasket 2013 will have the chance to enjoy the play of one of the biggest stars of the game as Tony Parker headlines the 17-strong French preliminary squad that was announced on Monday.
Parker, who played at his first EuroBasket in 2011, is to make a seventh consecutive appearance in the show-piece event, an all-time record among French players.
If France were to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament in Slovenia and the San Antonio Spurs point guard features in each one of their First Round and Second Round games, he will enter the top ten on the list of players with the most games at EuroBasket in history.
The late legend Kresimir Cosic, who played in nine EuroBasket tournaments with the former Yugoslavia (from 1967 to 1983) tops the list with 67 games.
Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers, is another French NBA star who is included on the squad announced by head coach Vincent Collet, as are France captain Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, both Parker's team-mates at San Antonio.
The presence of Parker brings not only world class, but also experience to a particularly youthful backcourt, as three promising talents received their first call-up to the senior national team.
Thomas Heurtel became the starting point guard of Spanish powerhouse Laboral Kutxa Baskonia, 21-year-old Evan Fournier impressed in the second half of his rookie NBA season with the Denver Nuggets and Leo Westermann, who is of the same age, put in solid performances for Partizan Belgrade in both the Euroleague and the Adriatic league.
23-year-old shooting guard Edwin Jackson, who had a break-out season with Lyon-Villeurbanne and finished as the third leading scorer in the French Pro A league is also included in the team.
Collet's options in the frontcourt however were limited, as on Monday it was confirmed that Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi would not be available to play at the EuroBasket, and therefore did not receive a call-up.
The absence of the two NBA players aggravated a problem for Les Bleus at the center position, as before them three other big men had pulled out of the national team, for different reasons.
|After missing EuroBasket 2011 with a hand injury, Ronny Turiaf is expected to return to the France line-up|
Kevin Seraphin of the Washington Wizards announced he would follow an individual training program in the summer, veteran Ali Traore had to recuparate after a knee injury-plagued season and Ludovic Vaty, who had a fantastic season with EuroChallenge semi-finalists BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, was forced to retire prematurely from basketball due to a heart condition.
Youngster Joffrey Lauvergne of Partizan Belgrade, Alexis Ajinca of Pro A runners-up Strasbourg, veteran Ronny Turiaf of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kim Tillie of Murcia are consequently the three big men on Collet's list.
France were drawn into First Round Group A at the EuroBasket and will go up against Germany, Ukraine, Israel, Great Britain and Belgium.
EuroBasket 2013 French preliminary squad:
Alexis Ajinca, Nicolas Batum, Yannick Bokolo, Nando De Colo, Boris Diaw, Antoine Diot, Evan Fournier, Mickaël Gelabale, Thomas Heurtel, Edwin Jackson, Charles Kahudi, Joffrey Lauvergne, Tony Parker, Florent Pietrus, Kim Tillie, Ronny Turiaf, Léo Westermann.
Meanwhile Rudy Gobert, Andrew Albicy, Livio Jean-Charles, Jérémy Leloup and Adrien Moerman make up a group of players that might be called upon in case of an injury to one of the players in the preliminary squad during preparations.