FRANCE team captain Boris Diaw said he expects a tough game against the Philippines when Les Bleus make their debut in the Fiba Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday night.
Although Gilas is ranked 23 rungs below the fifth-rated France in the world rankings, Diaw, a mainstay of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, said he knows the Philippine team well enough not to lower his guard when the two teams meet at 9 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We know it’s going to be a hard game,” said Diaw in an interview with French and Filipino reporters on Tuesday. “We know them for a long time. We played against the Philippines a couple of years ago and we know they play really good.”
Diaw was referring to a 2014 match during the Antibes International Basketball Tournament where Les Bleus won a close one, 75-68, over a Gilas squad that made 12 three-pointers in the match that served as part of the buildup for the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.
“We had a hard time winning. It was a tough game,” Diaw recalled.
Diaw expects Gilas to be once again led by former NBA player Andray Blatche, who, being a big offensive threat, can open up scoring opportunities for his teammates.
“We are looking at everybody. We know that they play a lot with Andray Blatche. He creates a lot of opportunities and open shots to all the players. The players on the team can make shots from the outside. We have to be careful,” Diaw said.
Diaw also expects a raucous crowd to cheer the home side on.
“They are going to be at home. We know the crowd is going to be cheering for them. There is going to be a lot of people. We know its going to be a tough game so we will just be prepared and ready for them,” said Diaw.
Aside from Diaw, also expected to lead France are San Antonio Spurs teammate Tony Parker, NBA player Nicolas Batum, and rising star Nando De Colo.