FRA - France ready for tougher competition in Greece
WIN a trip to the FIBA World Championship Finals weekend
ATHENS (FIBA World Championship) - France coach Claude Bergeaud is expecting a step up in class when his side face Italy, Croatia and Greece in the Acropolis Tournament - their second preparation event for the FIBA World Championship in Japan.
Les Bleus, now down to 14 players after the axing of Vincent Masingue, Michel Morandais and Stephen Brun a week ago, outclassed Senegal, Lithuania and China in Strasbourg two weekends ago. But Bergeaud insists his men will face a tougher challenge as from Monday night.
“Those three teams [Italy, Croatia and Greece] are going to be far more difficult and solid,” Bergeaud said. “We are about to clash with players who are used to playing in hard matches and who never panic even if they are led towards at end of their games.
“Unfortunately, we did not have that in Strasbourg, that`s why we are waiting for those matches with great impatience in order to work on our ability to close in on tight games.”
France will also face Greece, who defeated them in the semi-final of last year’s EuroBasket before winning the title. The Greeks had prevented Les Bleus from reaching the final in the final seconds of the clash.
“If we replay Greece and we are seven points ahead one minute to the end, I promise that we will not lose the game this time, because everyone in the team still remembers what happened last September,” added Bergeaud.
The French boss is expected to unveil his final 12-man World Championship squad on August 2 where he will have to chose between centres Ronny Turiaf and Yohan Petro and between shooting guards, Yannick Bokolo and Joseph Gomis.
France will then travel to Berlin to face Italy again as well as Germany or Turkey on August 4-5 before playing a final friendly tournament in China from August 12 to 15.
Les Bleus, who will have played a total of 12 warm-up games before the start of the FIBA World Championship on August 19, have been drawn in Group A along with Argentina, Lebanon, Nigeria, Serbia & Montenegro and Venezuela.
They will kick-start the competition on the opening day with a clash against Olympic champions Argentina.
By PA Sport
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