TONY Parker and the rest of the fancied France team are coming in earlier than expected for the coming Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Parker and Co. will be arriving in the country on June 30 or about a week before the July 5-10 tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena, where a berth to the Rio De Janeiro Summer Games this August will be at stake.
Turkey, with Orlando Magic big man Ersan Ilyasova at the helm, will be the first to come over on June 28 as it will play Gilas Pilipinas in a tune-up match set on July 1. The national team is currently in Europe for a three-week training camp and will going home by the 27th of the month.
The rest of the field that includes Canada, New Zealand, and Senegal, will all be in the country by July 1.
“Actually Fiba’s time frame are for all participating teams to be here on July 3, or two days before the start of the tournament,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, who is also the deputy director for international affairs of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
“But just about every team wanted to come over here earlier for them to be able to acclimatize.”
NBA players Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier are skipping the Olympic qualifier for France although Nicolas Batum, earlier reported to likewise miss out on the Manila tournament, has recently been listed as part of coach Vincent Collet’s 17-man roster submitted to Fiba.
Batum, who is currently in negotiations for a new contract with the Charlotte Hornets, will be in Pau, France when the team formally gathers to prepare for the six-day Manila tournament, as per a Fiba report. It further said he will do physical work but not take part in drills or scrimmages.
Aside from Parker, other key players in the French list are Florent Pietrus, Boris Diaw, Mickael Gelabale, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Antonie Diot.
Canada will not have Andrew Wiggins around. Also set to miss out are Kelly Olynyk, Jamal Murray, Nik Stauskas, Anthony Bennett, and Tristan Thompson, currently playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
That leaves Corey Joseph, Joel Anthony, and Tyler Ennis to carry the fight for the Canadians.
The Tall Blacks of New Zealand are also playing without big man Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but coach Paul Henare will be bringing over the core of a team led by Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Isaac Fotu, and Rob Loe that faced Australia in the Fiba Oceania Championship last year.
As per a Fiba report, Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesotta Timberwolves will not suit up for Senegal in the qualifiers, while Maurice Ndour and Hamady Ndiaye, who played for Mahindra in last year’s PBA Governors Cup, have yet to show up for the team's practices.
Dieng was with the Senegal team which Gilas Pilipinas defeated in overtime, 81-79, during the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.