GOOD news for Gilas Pilipinas, bad news for France.
Multiple media reports are saying that French national team coach Vincent Collet has postponed the announcement of the composition of his squad set to compete for the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila from July 5 to 10 due this week as some of their stars are reportedly opting to skip the tournament due to their free agency in the NBA.
France's Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, and Ian Mahinmi have expiring NBA contracts at the end of the season and are unlikely to join their national team's quest to grab the lone slot to the Rio Olympics for the winner of the Manila OQT, their agent Bouna Ndiaye told the show 'Stade 2' (Stage 2) on the French TV channel France 2.
Rudy Gobert, another French stalwart and NBA player under Ndiaye, had already announced he will skip the pre-Olympic qualifier due to injury.
Ndiaye explained that because the free agents and NBA teams cannot sign any agreement before July 10, his wards need to be in the United States at all times during the free agency period, which happens to coincide with the Manila OQT.
"At 100%, whatever happens, even if they all have the desire to come and play for the team of France, between the 1st July and the date of signature, they will be in the United States," Ndiaye said.
When asked if this means Batum, Fournier, and Mahinmi will not be in Manila on the said dates, Ndiaye responded clearly, "Yes, we can say that."
French stars who have existing contracts with their NBA teams and are likely to play for France in the Manila OQT are Tony Parker and Boris Diaw of the San Antonio Spurs and Joffrey Lauvergne of the Denver Nuggets.