The France national team will be facing a huge problem in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila after agent said that Nic Batum, Evan Fournier and Ian Mahinmi may not play in the said tournament because of NBA free agency.
According to FIBA.com, Bouna Ndiaye, agent of Batum, Fournier and Mahinmi, said that the Olympic qualifier will be on the same month as the NBA free agency where the three NBA stars will be expected to prioritize signing new contracts in NBA. Ndiaye added that the earliest each would be able to sign new contracts would be 10 July, the day of the last game at the OQT.
“At 100%, whatever happens, even if they all have the desire to come and play for the team of France, between the 1st July and the date of signature, they will be in the United States,” Ndiaye said.
When asked if this means Batum, Fournier, and Mahinmi will not be in Manila on the said dates, Ndiaye responded clearly, “Yes, we can say that.”
Another bad news came for the France national team after Rudy Gobert announced that he will not be playing for the said tournament due to injury.
“I will not be there. I had a few injuries this year, two major injuries so they (Utah) want me there (in the United States) in June to strengthen my legs and do all the work I have to do.” Gobert said via FIBA.com.
However, though some pieces are missing for the France national team, coach Vincent Collet said that they still have their main men Tony Parker and Boris Diaw to help their team enter the Rio Olympics.
It is undeniable that the three NBA stars are big losses for France national team. However, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin admitted that despite the unfortunate event for France, they are still considering them as one of the toughest opponent in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.