FRANCE’s versatile forward Nicolas Batum is heading to Manila for the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament that kicks off July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Already loaded with NBA talent, the French national team just added more firepower to their powerhouse team with the coming of Batum, who reached an agreement with the Charlotte Hornets on a 5-year, $120 million deal.
Batum posted that he’s on his way to Manila via a flight from Dallas early Monday morning, saying “The #MissionRio starts now!”
However, France coach Vincent Collet said in a press conference on Monday that Batum is not likely to suit up against Gilas Pilipinas when the teams face off Tuesday, 9 p.m., as his contract with the Hornets cannot be signed and guaranteed until July 7.
“We know it’s impossible in the (5th to play) even if he has signed before coming,” said the soft-spoken French coach. “We need time to send the contract to the NBA to get him back. It’s impossible to play tomorrow.”
Collet, though, hinted at the possibility of Batum playing in their other matches after the Gilas game.
"Probably, if he’s coming, we hope (he can play),” said Collet. “We’ll just wait for the promulgation of his contract. But it’s not the case tomorrow (vs. Gilas).”