TONY Parker may be the face of France but it was Nando De Colo who denied Gilas Pilipinas a famous win against the world's No. 5 ranked basketball team in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
De Colo, the reigning EuroLeague MVP, topscored with 27 points to lift Les Bleus to a 93-84 win over the Philippine national team before a rabid home crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The CSKA Moscow standout proved he is set to become the new star of French basketball, scoring 11 points in a key third quarter that pushed his team to a 77-66 lead against the home squad.
France coach Vincent Collet said he expected that kind of performance from De Colo, who, until Tuesday night, was largely an unknown to casual Filipino basketball fans.
“Nando is doing what he has been doing this season. He played great. I think he has a lot of confidence. He is one of our leaders even though everybody is focusing on Tony and Boris (Diaw),” said Collet.
De Colo credited the Philippine squad for hanging on, forcing the French squad to play as a team in order to prevent an upset by Gilas.
“They are a great team. They are good individually. When we started to play together, it was a different game,” said De Colo.
At a time when Parker is about to end his international career with France, Collet agrees that the future is bright for De Colo.
“He is a real scorer and I think he gets better. He is going to be 29 and that is the good stage for basketball players,” said Collet.