France eager to face US Dream Team in Rio

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France’s Tony Parker shoots a free throw during the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament France versus Canada in Manila on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

France’s Tony Parker shoots a free throw during the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament France versus Canada in Manila on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

After securing an Olympics berth, France is keen to face the reigning champion United States Dream Team in the Rio de Janeiro Games on August 5 to 21.

Based on the FIBA draw, the US, France, Venezuela, Serbia, China and Australia will play in Group A while Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Lithuania, Croatia and Nigeria in Group B.

France’s coach Vincent Collet said there is no weak team in the Olympics, “I think it’s better to be with the United States. After that, we must finish second in the group to avoid them. All the teams that qualified are all good but we’ll be ready,” said Collet.

“There is no weak team so it will be very difficult to qualify for the quarterfinals. United States will remain United States even without its best players. We are so much motivated to play against them.”

The backcourt duo of Tony Parker and Nando de Colo led France to an 83-74 victory over Canada in the championship round of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Sunday.

Parker, a National Basketball Association veteran and currently a member of the San Antonio Spurs, notched 15 of his 26 points in the payoff period while de Colo contributed 22 points to help France join the other two OQT champions Serbia and Croatia to Rio.

Another NBA veteran Boris Diaw contributed nine points, four assists and two steals.

“It’s our goal to qualify for the Olympics. I’m happy for our country that we’re going to the Olympics. I’m happy that we won,” Parker said.

Meanwhile, FIBA Sport and Competitions Director Predrag Bogosavljiev announced that a new competition format would be used in the 2019 FIBA World Cup that will be held in China.

The format will employ home-and-away qualification matches on November 2017, February 2018, June 2018, September 2018, November 2018, and February 2019.

The 16 teams in Division 1 will be divided into four groups, while the top three teams from each group will advance to the next round where two new groups will be formed. The top three teams from each group will advance to the FIBA World Cup.

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