French Kiss of Death

Reposting this blog I wrote for @NBA.com Philippines
Tuesday / February 09 / 2016
8

French Kiss of Death
Joey Villar


Spurs star point guard and French national basketball team veteran Tony Parker. (AP File Photo)

MANILA, Philippines – I have good and bad news to all.

I will start with the bad. Tony Parker is playing for France in the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament the Philippines will host from July 4-10 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

Now the good. At least we Filipinos, most of whom go crazy over the NBA and basketball in general, will get to see the exciting San Antonio Spurs guard for the first time in the flesh.

Honestly, it’s hard describing the feeling of being excited and a little bit sad of the Tony Parker news. And that’s what I’m feeling right at this very moment.

* * *

We all know why Parker is an important piece of France’s Olympic campaign.

But we can sum it up in a few words. He’s great.

He’s not only a veteran NBA player who helped the Spurs won four NBA championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014); he was also the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, a six-time All-Star and a three-time member of the All-NBA Third Team.

Outside the NBA, Parker has won the FIBA EuroBasket MVP plum three years ago and was named FIBA Europe Player of the Year twice in 2013 and 2014 while helping the French struck gold in the 2013 EuroBasket.

* * *

Tony Parker is that great.

During the 2012 London Olympics, Parker averaged 15.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists and was its leader in six games as France wound up sixth.

Parker will not do much though statistically in the qualifiers because as we all know by now, the French are already loaded with NBA players.

Let me correct myself. They’re not just NBA players, most of them are starters.

* * *

To mention, the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, the Charlotte Hornets’ Nicolas Batum, the Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier, the Indiana Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi are all starting for their respective teams.

Boris Diaw, Parkers’ Spurs teammate, the Denver Nuggets’ Joffrey Lauvergne, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Alexis Ajinca and the New York Knicks Kevin Seraphin are also in that French team.

And oh, have I already mentioned the Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah?

* * *

Parker should be a big thorn on Gilas Pilipinas’ Olympic campaign.

But despite it, I’m keeping the faith. I know it will be tough beating France. But it’s not impossible.

Of course, France is not the only team our beloved Gilas should watch out for. There is Canada, which is also loaded with NBA players. There is also New Zealand, which is also grouped with us and the French. The Canadians are bracketed with the Turks and Senegalese.

France, however, is the team to beat in this qualifier because of talent and experience alone.

* * *

In case we forget, we’re fighting for a lone slot to Rio.

So it will be paramount for us to stay focused on just making everything work. From the Andray Blatche factor to working out ways in making sure Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson, who is doing good with the Los Angeles Lakers, is seeing action for us. Also, we should come up with the bets roster possible.

On our side, we should never waiver on our support and make use of the one advantage we could utilize –the hometown crowd.

And I will be there to shout myself hoarse and cheer for our guys.

You should too.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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