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Basketball: Wembanyama, Coulibaly, Albicy… Which Blues at the Paris 2024 Olympics?

Vincent Collet will decide.

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Basketball: Wembanyama, Coulibaly, Albicy… Which Blues at the Paris 2024 Olympics?

Vincent Collet will decide. Like his counterpart among the ladies, Jean-Aimé Toupane, the coach of the French men's basketball team will unveil this Thursday (5 p.m.) his list for the Paris Olympics (July 26-August 11). This time it will be with Victor Wembanyama. No bad last minute surprises like last season, before the World Cup. As usual, the Norman technician should select five interior and seven players on the exterior positions. A selection at the crossroads of generations, with the aim of climbing onto the box in Paris on August 10 - as in Tokyo in 2021, with the silver medal at stake - and therefore making people forget the gigantic fiasco of Jakarta last year. Overview of the options available to coach Collet, the players certain to be there, those for whom the question arises, and ultimately the list of 12 players from Le Figaro, knowing that the coach could announce this Thursday a extended group.

Barring injury, six players are absolutely certain to participate in the Olympics. “Wemby” withdrew from Euro 2022 due to injury before giving up on the 2023 World Cup in order to better prepare for his NBA debut. This time, he will be there. After four selections during the windows of last season, the brilliant rookie of the year in the NBA will play his first major tournament with the A. It will bring back old memories for the always dashing veterans that are Nicolas Batum and Nando de Colo, their last campaign in blue. Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert are in the prime of life. Note that the Blues will have the luxury of relying on the first two in the ranking of the trophy for best defender of the season in the NBA, the four-time winner Gobert, and his runner-up “Wemby”. Gerschon Yabusele will certainly complete this hard core, he who was part of the major five during the last campaigns with the France team. Six out of 12.

His absence had weighed so heavily that one wonders why Andrew Albicy would be snubbed again. At the time, Collet had chosen size for the position of leader. An error that he will not repeat. The former Parisian also scored points during the last rally. Member of the Euroleague major five for the second year in a row and often performing well in Blue, despite the competition, Mathias Lessort should be there, especially as he can play in 4 if necessary. And if he needs size, Collet will already have Wembanyama and Gobert... If he recovers from his wrist injury, and that seems to be the case, Bilal Coulibaly has every chance of being part of the adventure. Revealed with the Mets 92 last year, with Vincent Collet on the bench, the 19-year-old winger confirmed in the NBA with Washington. In addition, the French team is not very rich in its position. Moreover, Collet does not hide the fact that he would have already liked to take him last year for the World Cup… In fact, Coulibaly could be one of the “sure to be there”…

“In the external sector, we don't have as much... I wouldn't say certainties, we never have any, but there is in any case a lot more uncertainty than in certain years. Our players are having seasons that are not those we could have hoped for,” coach Collet recently explained for Ouest France. This particularly concerns the leader position. The coach also admitted that he will “probably have to take at least one from those who do not play” in club, mentioning here Frank Ntilikina, Théo Maledon and Killian Hayes, cut in the NBA and without a club for several weeks. If he is operational, the said Frank Ntilikina leaves with the favor of the forecasts to support Albicy and De Colo. Especially since Thomas Heurtel is, a priori, not selectable, since he still plays in Russia.

Inside, there would still be one ticket to distribute to complete an already well-stocked sector with “Wemby”, Gobert, Lessort and Yabusele. The profile of the lucky winner will partly depend on the use of Wembanyama, or even Batum. If he relies on a pivot, it is very likely, Collet will have to decide between Mous Fall and Vincent Poirier. The first was in the list for the World Cup, not the second. Two players who would claim a starting place in numerous selections... In any case, this fifth thief will undoubtedly have to be content with limited playing time during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. This will undoubtedly be an element to be considered. take into account in the selection process, acceptance of the role. This could benefit Vincent Poirier, who is also brilliant with Real Madrid.

What about the last outpost? A puzzle. Almost more a question of taste than anything else. If Collet wants scoring off the bench, Nadir Hifi has his chances. The Paris Basketball player, however, needs playing time and volume to be productive. Not sure he can shine in short sequences, as Matthew Strazel regularly does with Monaco. The Ile-de-France resident also showed some great things at the last gathering. The coach could also take a more defensive profile on the wings, Isaïa Cordinier, but also Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Monegasque Elie Okobo hardly shone at the 2023 World Cup and was not called up last February. What about Sylvain Francisco, called up for the World Cup? If he takes Ntilikina, Collet will undoubtedly skip Hayes and Malédon. For the panache, the Nadir Hifi hypothesis would look good...

Note that there is little chance of seeing future NBAers Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr on the list, for the same reason that prompted Wembanyama to reject the advances of the French staff last year. Rodrigue Beaubois? He is a candidate. But he again refused the selection in February. The patience of the staff undoubtedly has its limits... Terry Tarpey is injured. There are still some big odds, including players present at the last gathering (Ayayi, Begarin, Lacombe, Dieng, Causeur, Lang, Hoard, Inglis, Lauvergne, Makoundou…). We have already mentioned the Heurtel case, while the Joel Embiid hypothesis has been closed for a while, the latter having opted for the United States after obtaining the French passport.

La liste du Figaro : Albicy, Ntilikina, Strazel, De Colo, Fournier, Batum, Coulibaly - Wembanyama, Gobert, Yabusele, Lessort, Poirier.

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