MANILA, Philippines – French basketball fans watched Les Bleus' final tune-up match on home soil, a 91-74 victory over Japan at the Kindarena in Rouen, France. It also marked the last time that point guard Tony Parker will play for the national team in front of a home crowd.
French basketball officials felt that Japan provided a glimpse of how the Philippines would play. Except for Japanese center Yuta Tabuse, not much is known about the players who comprise head coach Kenji Hasegawa's squad.
Japan's shooters got away with a lot of outside shots in the first half before the French played with much better defensive intensity.
Behind Thomas Heurtel and Nado De Colo, Les Bleus closed out the first half with some big shots and a 54-31 lead. Parker had a rather quiet evening in Rouen, scoring 6 points and dishing 3 assists. The French coasted to a win.
Post-match, Parker, with a microphone in hand and accompanied by Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus, praised his fans one and made a promise: "For French basketball, we'll go up at the end."
France head coach Vincent Collet also said that they "could not imagine a better friendly match than the game against Japan."
"The Japanese play a very protective zone which explains our numerous shots at 3 points. My players didn't take some shots because I asked them to be patient. These matches are important moments of evaluation but these aren't the only ones. Tonight, Mickael Gelabale showed us that he was ready to play," Collet said.
"The Japanese play a similar game to the Filipinos and I am glad for our defense against the 3-point shots of which the Filipinos are madmen," he added. "I feel every day we advance a little better."
Parker expects the Filipino cagers to play like the Japanese.
"This is what you will find in the Philippines. A team that will play small and quick basketball and who will try to outsmart us. It was a serious game and a good workout," he said.
"A giant prepares to bow out. And Rio must be its ultimate destination," said Collet about Parker. – Rappler.com