By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
After a failed venture in the Olympic Games, with a defeat in the quarterfinals vs Spain, France will have to undergo a certain reboot ahead of its future summer campaigns.
This transitional state won’t only bring new faces on board, but also major changes in the team’s internal structure. With the mighty Tony Parker calling it quits from his international career, “Les Bleus” are almost forced to find someone to step in his shoes. The player who will move forward and guide his teammates not only during games but off them as well. The one who will have the first say in the locker rooms and the final word on court.
The French national team’s new leader.
Most recently, Nicolas Batum, one of the senior members of the team, said that he accepts the fact that the new…. “boss” will be no other than Nando De Colo. It was a quite interesting statement, given the fact that it came from an NBA-er who now belongs to the squad’s veterans.
“My actions on court will show if I’m the leader of the French national team”, was De Colo’s response. Fresh from the challenging “Diamonds Are Forever” preseason tournament, the 29-year old combo guard talked to Eurohoops about the new day dawning in his country’s national team and his role in it.
“I saw what Nicolas said. Of course we need leaders in the national team. There’s no doubt about that. And I am sure that he (Nicolas Batum) is one of them. So we need to walk over it. We need to find what each of us is capable of doing, understand it and then make it efficiently function on court.”
Apart from Tony Parker, Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus also announced their retirement from the NT after France reached the end of the road in the Olympic tournament.
“Yes, some players retired but we have a new generation coming up. So it will be important to start everything from a base level and build from that. We came out of the Olympic Games unsuccessful and next summer we should start everything from scratch. Begin working anew. The leaders will emerge from that.”
Thriving on responsibilities isn’t only the oil that feeds De Colo’s basketball engine but the essence that pushes his game to outstanding levels. By being a major driving force in CSKA‘s game during the previous season, he completed the year with… three MVP titles as his team conquered every title there is to win.
Does he see himself assuming a leadership position in the French national team as well?
“Yes, but if it happens, it will happen on court, as I said. It’s what you do makes you the leader. This is what takes place everywhere and in every team. Like in CSKA Moscow where I have many duties. This is very important for me. For a team to succeed we do indeed need to have one or two leaders.”
Batum’s “vote of confidence” is important for an extra reason. Not only does it come from someone with a multi-year experience in the NBA but it refers to a possible leader in a squad which features no small amount of players from the best league in the planet.
Perhaps it’s a statement that also vindicates De Colo’s decision to sign a new, multi-year contract with the Russian powerhouse and not pursue a possible return to USA.
“Well, I had already made my decision so it doesn’t matter. I really wanted to sign again with CSKA Moscow. I feel really great in the team right now. It was important to renew with them because I got all the responsibilities I want in the team. CSKA wants to go until the end every season, to win every single title there is. And this means a lot to me.”
After taking the throne of Europe, the job that CSKA Moscow now has is to repel any usurpers and defend its title. Something perhaps more difficult than winning the crown.
“Of course it will be difficult, like it was last year. But that is what makes it special, that is what makes everything important. For our part we need to go back on court and simply show everyone that we are the Euroleague champion.”