A FAMILIAR face for Turkey spelled doom on its bid of making the finals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament as Thomas Huertel led a huge spark off the bench for France in their knockout semifinal game on Saturday.
With NBA players Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and Nicolas Batum playing limited roles in the all-important game, Heurtel took command for Les Bleus by finishing with 17 points and four assists in a 75-63 win at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Heurtel is no stranger for Tukey as he plays professional ball with Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the Turkish Basketball Super League. He later helped the French sustained their lead after being down early in the first quarter, 13-3.
France coach Vincent Collet isn’t surprised with the play of the 6-foot-2 guard, who played extensive minutes after he opted not to field in Parker for the entire fourth quarter.
“Thomas was hot tonight. We know he is that kind of player,” said Collet.
The French coach said Huertel’s performance is crucial as Les Bleus heads into the championship game against Canada for a berth in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
“The team has been working with him to give him the ball. Couple of possessions, he made good decisions to allow us to get the break,” said Collet.