France G.M. Boris Diaw opens up on World Cup failure, Joel Embiid and banned players

2023-08-28T15:37:07+00:00 2023-09-11T15:56:24+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

28/Aug/23 15:37

Boris Diaw was asked about several burning topics surrounding the French national team after their elimination in the World Cup,

By Antonis Stroggylakis /

Jakarta, Indonesia – French national team general manager Boris Diaw met with journalists in Jakarta after the first practice of the Les Bleus following their shocking early exit from the 2023 FIBA World Cup with an upset to Latvia, just two games into the competition.

No players of France were allowed to talk to the media, but Diaw took questions by reporters on several topics. While not giving specifically concrete answers in some subjects, he addressed his team’s disappointing elimination, Nicolas Batum’s comments regarding players being absent due to political reasons, Joel Embiid, what caused the failure of France in the tournament and more.

The Q&A with journalists, including some questions by Eurohoops was the following:

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France captain Nicolas Batum talked about political decisions that he believes prohibit the French national team from having the best possible roster. What can you comment about this?

It’s a statement that he says right after the game and it’s always tough to lose so you are always trying to find solutions, why did you lose, why you are here at that time. Obviously, we are all asking ourselves these questions. I don’t think that these are questions that we can answer right away. It’s going to take a little while before we get to analyze everything. But that’s what we are doing right now. We’re in a process of analyzing what we could’ve done better. Everybody. As a team, as a staff, as a Federation. Everybody.

Batum obviously implied players missing due to playing in Russia (players who sign in Russia are banned by the French Federation in light of the war in Ukraine). Thomas Heurtel was specifically mentioned a lot on social media, also because Nando De Colo was out in the last decisive minutes vs. Latvia.

Do you think that the team would be better with Thomas Heurtel?

That’s something that we have to analyze like I said. We can’t just talk about who came and who didn’t come or who was injured and who didn’t come for whatever reason. Sometimes you are missing players because of injury, sometimes because someone doesn’t want to come. Sometimes because there’s a ban on the rules.

Depending on why the person is not there all you can do is have a team. Twelves guys you go to the World Cup and you try to win. And the problem yesterday wasn’t about who wasn’t there but with the players who were there lost.

That’s our problem right now and that’s what we are trying to analyze first.

It’s less than 24 hours after the game vs. Latvia. It’s early but have you thought about making any big decisions with the national team?

No. Like I said it’s going to take a while. We aren’t making any big decisions or management decisions. We’re going to look at everything with a fresh head. Think about it, analyze everything and then do it in the future.

Is Joel Embiid a solution perhaps? An answer? Especially considering that the 2024 Olympic Games are coming and they are a big deal for the French team.

I don’t think it’s one answer to our team. It’s not “OK one magical that’s going to change everything”. Like I said, the problem with this competition isn’t who was here and who wasn’t there. I think that it’s that with the team that we had that should have done better than what we did. And that means that it’s the fault of everybody. I’m not saying it’s the only coaches, or the players, or the managers, or the stuff. It’s that with the team we had we should’ve done better.

We aren’t thinking that “OK by adding somebody we can do better. The problem wasn’t that we didn’t have talent in this room. It was that we didn’t play the right.

That’s the first thing that we have to change and then we can have the best possible team.

Are you going to be more aggressive in your Joel Embiid pursuit?

I’m not an aggressive person per se (laughs). I don’t think it’s a pursuit. It’s about people who want to come. Some people come or don’t come to the national team for different reasons. He’s a special case for his own reasons. I don’t think there’s a way to be aggressive on our part.

Nicolas Batum said this is the biggest disappointment in his career. You had big successes and big disappointments yourself as a player and now you are an executive. Where does this elimination stand?

It’s a bad one. It’s hard to compare. When you are sad, you are sad. The level of sadness… It’s hard to say. Yeah, there were a few championships that you know, I was very disappointed. One was 2007 for example. We didn’t qualify for the Olympic Games because we lost the last three games of the EuroBasket in Spain.

There have been [disappointments] and this one is a tough one.

After watching these two games what are your biggest concerns?

I don’t think it’s a concern about the team but as I said I don’t think we play good for different reasons. The two games were very different. First game against Canada, a team that plays very tough. I think the concern there was that we gave up at the end of the game. On the way to losing the game. You don’t want to lose by 30 by giving up in the last minutes. That was one concern.

Latvia was different. This is a game where we could’ve really played together. But we didn’t play all the way until the end and didn’t play smart enough to win.

Specifically, how to improve and what can you do as a general manager of this team. Specifically, how to improve and what are your main takeaways?

Specifically, the first point is to regroup, talk with everybody and analyze what happened in every aspect of the game. On the court, off the court, the preparation, everything. Tactical, everything. And being able to analyze and find the solutions. Right now, I don’t have the solutions for you, it’s going to take some process.

USA star sprinter, Olympic medalist and World champion Noah Lyles said that it’s a mistake to call the NBA champions world champions because they don’t face global competition. As a former NBA champion (2014 with the San Antonio Spurs) what do you think about it?

I understand why he [Noah -Lyles] is saying that. Personally, when I became an NBA champion, I liked to call myself an NBA champion and not a world champion because this is not a World Championship. But, historically, the team that’d win the NBA would be the best team in the world. Club team, not national team.

I think that it’s like the UEFA Champions League. I don’t think there’s a better team than the Champions League champion in the world. They don’t call themselves wold champion. They call themselves a Champions League champion. Still, I don’t think that there’s another club that could beat them. I think that’s why he [Lyles] is saying that.