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In France basketball team, new Blues entered through the windows
Paul Lacombe, here facing the Bulgarian players, pulled his pin from the game at the World Cup qualifying windows. DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP

Paul Lacombe is a survivor. Yet to see him pose, sweaty and all smiles, at the end of July and early August with the spectators of Pau who came to attend the training of the team of France of basketball, hard to believe that the player had, at one time, believed the blue train gone without him. Like Andrew Albicy and Mathias Lessort, the back of Monaco took advantage of the new system â € "invaded â €" qualifying for the World Cup, to make his hole in France team.

And while the Blues compete, Monday, August 5, their first match of preparation at the World Cup in China (against Turkey, Pau, at 8:30 pm), the three men, passed by the qualifying windows, pulled their pin from the game, and are well on their way to being from the squad sent to China. Where no one would have bet a yuan on them, two years ago. To begin with themselves.

On the occasion of the 2019 World Cup, the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA) has turned up its format of qualifications. Place now to an operation by  € œInternational windowsâ € part of the season, based on what is done in football, to serve, according to the wishes of the body, "A growth accelerator" basketball. Except that the universe of the orange balloon is not regulated by the same players as the football, and that this reform has been implemented without having negotiated a deal with the NBA and the Euroleague, the two best leagues in the world. Private leagues that have not released their players for these windows. And forced the different nations to recompose hefty teams, without their best players.

Read also: Unbeaten rebounds in World Basketball Qualifiers

"Without a state of the soul"

"This is the France F team! AT", even ironically Tony Parker on RMC Sports, in September 2018, confessing "Having trouble recognizing the team", deprived of the ban (the NBA players) and the back-ban (those of Euroleague). Defending "Disrespectful, talented players", called for the windows, the best player in the history of hexagonal basketball was taken to the FIBA, and his decision to change everything without agreeing with the all-powerful leagues ©'re private.

Nearly a year later, the survivors of these Expendables orange balloon version do not formalize this output. As in Sylvester Stallone's franchise story of the adventures of a gang of mercenaries  "sacrificed © s » in advance, the "Team France" was forewarned. "We all knew why we were there", hammer Paul Lacombe.

And all of them did it without a state of mind. "They were magnificent, echoed selector Vincent Collet to their heart. Those who are there [dans le groupe préparant le Mondial] but also all the others, all the team is indebted to them. AT" And the stars, Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum at the head, are well aware of it. Because the depth of the hexagonal tank has prevented France from living the misunderstanding of Slovenia, champion of Europe in title, but deprived of Mondial because of too many absences in qualifying .

"Fear of going straight into the wall"

Of the thirty players who have been playing at Tuzla, Krasnodar, Antwerp or Espoo for two years, four are in the group preparing for the World Cup in their "Kind of Clairefontaine [béarnais] basketball », where the Blues have been meeting for ten years (Lacombe, Albicy, Lessort and Amath Ma Baye). "It's a pride, of course!, assumes Paul Lacombe. I represent all the guys who came for the windows, and who wore this jersey in a very nice way. AT" He remembers very well the very first match of these qualifications, in Antwerp against Belgium, where the Bleus advanced in unknown territory. "We were really scared to go straight into the wall, but in the end we managed to qualify the team almost without the stars. AT"

In France basketball team, new Blues entered through the windows
At FIBA ​​windows, Vicent Collet found Andrew Albicy a field relay. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

After a Euro 2017 having seen the Blues, largely diminished by absences, squander the defensive base that allowed them to reach the peaks of international basketball, Vincent Collet intended to take advantage of these windows for real to infuse a supplement of the soul to his team.

And his group, composed of players of the championship of France or from European clubs not disputing the prestigious Euroleague, has answered this. And saw leaders emerge. "Lacombe, Lessort and Albicy have shown far beyond the simple state of mind, judge the French coach. They have real quality at the international level. In tough games against strong teams, they showed that they could play in the final selection. It's also for that they are here today. AT"

A heritage to transmit

After the announcement of the selection in June, Collet ensured the pivot and the leader of their presence in the group sent to China. "Today, I'm still surprised to be in the final team"Amuse Albicy, the only player to have played the twelve qualifying matches. If Lacombe must win his place in the twelve, the player, at the end of the contract with Monaco, is in a favorable tie to pass the cut â € "unlike Amath Mâ € ™ Bay Bay, which seems blocked by the competition inside.

"The dynamic that the team has shown during these two years is bound to continue, warns Patrick Beesley, the general manager of the Blues. And the team must be up to the mark, both in results and in attitude. AT" Guarantors of the inheritance, the survivors of the "Team France" aspire to maintain the state of mind commando established during the rotation imposed; without, however, taking themselves for players that they are not. "The windows offered the opportunity for some players to show themselves in blue jersey, a chance that we might not have had if there had been everyone, summarizes Mathias Lessort. And with Andrew, Paul and Amath, we knew how to seize it. AT" And they would not have anything against doing the same in the Middle Kingdom.

France-Turkey, first match of preparation at the World Cup. Monday August 5th, at Pau (8:30 pm).

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