December 11, 2016

Tony Parker caught between NBA and France

2009/08/03 1:51 pm 1:51 pm1:51 pm1:51 pm 0 comments

Right now Tony Parker is somewhere in San Antonio rehabbing an ankle sprain, but no doubt the 6-2 point guard would rather be in France.

Tony Parker dribbles upcourt for France

Alerted to a mild ankle sprain Parker suffered on July 23 in a warmup game against Austria, the San Antonio Spurs called Parker back to the U.S.A. so that he could be checked out by the team’s medical staff.

After Manu Ginóbili missed last season’s playoffs due to a late season injury, likely affected by his participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Spurs weren’t ready to overlook any injury, mild or not, to their star guard.

The 27-year old Parker averaged career highs in points (22) and assists (6.9) during the 2008-09 NBA season. Parker, who had a career-high 55 points against Minnesota, carried the Spurs last season as Tim Duncan slowed and Ginobili was in and out of the lineup.

With Parker closer to Paris, Texas, than Paris, France, the three-time NBA All Star’s absence could cost the French National Team a spot in the very important European basketball championships that are set to begin on September 7, 2009.

And no one knows this more than Parker.

“Honestly, I don’t understand this decision, because of all the tests done with the French doctors and the Spurs,” Parker said. “I regret what is going on.”

Though Parker doesn’t understand emotionally, he evidently understands the business behind the Spurs’ move.

“I am obligated to follow what my (NBA) club wants me to do,” Parker continued. “…but I hope to come back (to France) as soon as possible to participate in the qualification with the French national team.”

Parker’s is scheduled to return to Les Bleus next week, but it all depends on the progress of his injured ankle.  That means Parker will not rejoin France in time for the initial game of the qualifying tournament, a game against the Italian national team on Wednesday, August 5th.

The Eurobasket qualifying tournament will determine the final berth in Eurobasket 2009.  France is one of six teams, divided into two groups of three, that are vying for that last spot.  The tournament’s winner will head to Poland for Eurobasket.

Additionally, qualifying for Eurobasket gives national teams a much better chance to qualify for next summer’s World Championships in Turkey, and the 2012 London Olympics, so this qualifying tournament has huge raminifications for years to come.

France is grouped with Italy and Finland.  The other group features Portugal, Belgium, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Without Parker and Rodrigue Beaubois, who was injured in this year’s NBA Summer League, France has been leaning on Nando De Colo, whom the Spurs selected in the second round of the 2009 draft.

In the first game without Parker, De Colo stepped up and led the team with 18 points in a 70-69 comeback win over Hungary.

The French national team includes Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf, and Florent Piétrus (Mickaël’s older brother).


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