TONY Parker is looking to have fun and at the same time, accomplish his job for France in his first ever visit in Manila.
Parker and the entire French team arrived in the country early Friday morning as the fancied bets to top next week’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena, where a lone berth in the coming Rio De Janeiro Summer Games is at stake.
The four-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs though, was quick to play down the team’s tag as heavy favorites other than saying the Frenchmen will try their best to make it back to the Olympics, where they finished sixth the last time it was held in London in 2012.
“Hope we’ll have fun and try to do our best to qualify for the Olympics,” said the 34-year-old Parker, who was still gracious enough to grant a short interview despite feeling tired and weary following close to 14 hours of travel from France to the Philippines.
France coach Vincent Collet also expects his team to be in contention for a slot in the Rio Games, with Canada serving as the biggest threat to the French’s bid of returning to the Olympics in which they won a silver in 1948 and 2000, respectively.
“We have great hopes. We want to go to Rio,” he said.
France will open its bid against Gilas Pilipinas right on the first day of competition. A sellout, partisan crowd is expected at the Mall of Asia Arena to wildly cheer the Filipinos and jeer Parker and Co.
No problem with Parker about.
“I can’t wait to meet them (Filipino basketball fans), and enjoy my time here,” he said. “I’m very happy to be here.”