NBA superstars Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Tony Parker are expected to show their wares as they lead the 17-player preliminary squad for team France in the coming FIBA Rio Olympic Qualifying Tournament which will be held from July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. However, Batum’s availability will be in question as he is still doing paperwork for his free agency this summer.
FIBA.com reported that Batum has stated through his agent that he hopes a short negotiation with the Charlotte Hornets could take place this summer to give him the privilege of playing for his country in the qualifying tournament that will also see teams from New Zealand, Canada, Senegal, Turkey and host Philippines.
However, chances of getting complications could occur if both parties could not agree on the deal terms and since Batum is an unrestricted free agent and rumors are swirling that the 27-year old shooting guard might be able to play for France if the talks with the Hornets slide down until July 7, but France hopes that everything will go smoothly with Batum and the Hornets as they need him badly to qualify for a spot in Rio.
If the Hornets doesn’t give into Batum’s request, other teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies will be in hot pursuit to sign him in. One thing is for sure, Batum will be in France for the team’s workout on June 10 but he will not take part in any scrimmage as he is still taking the time to recover from a sprained left ankle in Game 2 of the Hornets’ first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat.
Aside from Batum, France coach Vincent Collet will also heavily rely on the San Antonio Spurs mainstays Tony Parker and Boris Diaw to be part of the team’s core which could help deliver the goods for them. Collet’s core also includes Florent Pietrus, Mickael Gelabale, Joffrey Lauvergne and Antoine Diot.
Team France has not had a good time frame for its preparations but Collet hopes that their friendly tune-ups could help them in their preparations for the qualifying tournament. The French squad is set to take on Latvia in Pau’s Palais des Sports on June 16; Serbia at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on June 21; Serbia in Belgrade on June 25 and Japan back in France in Rouen on June 28.
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