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2016 Manila OQT

WATCH: Parker, Les Bleus expect tough OQT opener against the Philippines

July 4, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 1 day

Key players of the French men’s national basketball team expect a tough game against Gilas Pilipinas in their 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament opener on Tuesday.

While ranked no. 5 in the world, the European powerhouse does not want to underestimate the Philippines especially on the latter’s home floor.

“It will be a tough game. They will play their game. We know they are capable to play fast, and we need to be focused and be ready to play defense. They have their fans to support them,” guard Nando De Colo said.

De Colo also said that while many analysts peg France as the favorites in the Manila OQT, the team should prove it in the actual tournament.

“I think we just need to play. If we are the favorite, we have to play like the favorites. On the court, we should show them we want to go to the Olympic games. If you start to play easy, the other team will play, be confident against us and that will be bad. We need to come on the court and show them we want to play in the Olympics.”

Skipper Boris Diaw, who had played with the Philippines in an exhibition game two years ago when both sides were preparing for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, shared that the Les Bleus had had a tough time winning the said game and that he expects nothing less on Tuesday.

“We know it is going to be a hard game. We know them for a long time. We played the Philippines a couple of years ago. We know they play pretty good. We had a hard time winning the last game so that was a tough game already,” he said.

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“Fast forward (to now) and they are going to be at home, there are going to be a lot of people cheering for them, there are going to be a lot of people. We are just going to be prepared and ready for them.”

Diaw even added that all teams participating in the OQTs deserve to be there, as they have competed at a high level in their respective continental championships.

“Everybody is going to be hard to play. Everybody out in the tournament deserved to be here by playjng their own championship last summer, so they (are) all good teams. They are teams that have been winning before. We are all expecting to go to the Olympcs. Every team is going to be hard to beat,” he said.

Tony Parker, who is in his last year playing with the national team, said France should respect all of their opponents.

“We respect everybody. It is going to be a tough game. They will be playing at home. They will play with a lot of confidence. We are going to have to match that energy,” Parker said, adding how a team starts in their opening game is always crucial.

“Those games are always dangerous, first game of the competition, we just have to try and approach them the right way, be aggressive right away, and try to contorl the tempo of the game.”

“Everybody can win. One game, you know you can miss shots, and they can get hot, anything can happen. I hope everybody in my team understands that this is going to be a tough tournament,” Parker added.

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Parker also said France has been observing how the Philippines plays for them to be able to anticipate what Gilas will try to do.

“We watched film. Obviously we try to learn the way they play, their favorite moves, stuff like that. We try to make sure we know everybody because we respect everyone.”

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