EUROLEAGUE MVP Nando De Colo kept his focus on France's task at hand in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament, setting aside all the attention given to him as the future of French basketball and one of the most anticipated non-NBA player to see action in the qualifiers.
Following his recent accomplishments, the CSKA Moscow star is now seen as the heir apparent to Tony Parker, who is in his final tour of duty with France this year.
The 6-foot-4 De Colo, however, said all that matters to him is their present mission.
“I don’t think about the future. I’m here. We need to be ready for this tournament,” said De Colo.
Already laden with talent in NBA players Parker, Boris Diaw, and Nicolas Batum, France adds more firepower with De Colo, who averaged 24.3 points for CSKA Moscow en route to winning the MVP award in the 2015-2016 Euroleague season.
The 29-year-old, however, said being complacent is the last thing the star-studded France team wants to do in this Fiba OQT.
“I think we just need to play. Of course, we need to play with fire. We need to come on the court and show that we want to go to the Olympic Games. If we start to play easy, the other team will see and play with confidence. We need to come on the court and show that we want to play in the Olympic Games," said De Colo.
Although he singled out Turkey and Canada when asked who are the top teams in the Manila OQT, De Colo said every team, including the host country, can pull off some surprises in this short tournament.
“We know Turkey, they play good basketball every year. Canada, they have good players. But like I said, it would be just one game. Everybody can win a game and go to the semifinals or to the finals. It will be difficult. We are focusing on our team and focus on us,” said De Colo.
Despite playing against a lower-ranked Philippines to kick start the tournament, De Colo has high regard for Gilas Pilipinas ahead of their 9 p.m. match on Tuesday.
“They have (Andray) Blatche and they play a lot on him. They have good shooters who play fast. The first thing is to think about how to play together and play defense. This will be the key to the game,” said De Colo.