PARIS (EuroBasket 2011) - Tony Parker and Joakim Noah have joined the rest of France's NBA stars in Paris to open their preparations for EuroBasket.
Parker and Noah arrived at the national sports institute (INSEP) on Wednesday - 24 hours after their team-mates.
The notable absentee from Vincent Collet's 15-man squad is Mickael Gelabale, who is in the Antilles following the death of his father. The swingman is expected to join his team-mates next week.
NBA players Parker and Noah along with Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Mickael Pietrus and Ronny Turiaf are all on hand for the training camp.
Over the next few days, les Bleus will go through physical training before attacking the basketball part of their preparations when they move to the south-western city of Pau on 20 July for six days, culminating with a game against Canada.
A place among the likely 12-man team will be up for grabs as BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque's Yannick Bokolo ruled himself out for personal reasons.
Therefore, there will be some stiff competition for his place as a back-up combo guard, with Fabien Causeur and Andrew Albicy expected to be the two frontrunners for the spot.
France will aim to qualify for the 2012 London Games when they travel to Lithuania at the end of August.
They have not made it to the Olympics in 12 years, since finishing with an incredible silver medal at the Sydney Games in 2000, coming up short against the USA in the Gold Medal Game.
In Lithuania, Parker & Co will have a tough task ahead at hand right from the start as they open play in Group B of the Preliminary Round against Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia and Serbia.
Before turning up in the French capital to join his fellow countrymen, Parker was in Saint Dié des Vosges, in the north east of France, for his basketball camp.
He took some time out to talk to FIBA about his camp, the NBA lockout and the national team.
FIBA: What's your take on the lockout?
Parker: It's a complex problem. It's difficult to explain it to the fans but if the strike continues through January, I will come back to France.
FIBA: With your team of Villeurbanne?
Parker: Yes I will come to Villeurbanne because I'm the General Manager there. But I have to admit, I like Nancy too. I was there when my brother (Terrence) won the title. Nancy has a special place in my heart but I will choose Villeurbanne.
FIBA: Did you attend any of the NBA's meetings between the owners and the players?
Parker: Yes I was at a meeting in New York with Roger Mason, Maurice Evans and Chris Paul who represent the players.
FIBA: Are you surprised by Deron Williams' decision (he agreed, in principle, to play for Turkish side Besiktas if the NBA's lockout is not resolved and the season doesn't start in time)?
Parker: Quite a bit. I talked to him a few days ago and he told me he wanted an adventure in Europe for his family.
FIBA: Are you worried about insurance for the French players who will play for the national team?
Parker: Not at all. I'm confident that the French Federation will find a solution. Joakim Noah will be there too. I talked to him a week ago and he will be in France on Wednesday.
FIBA: Let's talk about your camp. After moving it from one place to another in recent years, why did you chose to hold it in in Saint Dié des Vosges?
Parker: It's a geographical choice. I had one edition of this camp in Fecamp in Normandie, but we had a lot of teenagers who came from Nancy, Strasbourg and Switzerland. My brother played for two years in Nancy and I think Saint Dié is a great place to welcome young people for a camp.
It's also a different choice: at Fecamp, it was near the sea, here (it's) the mountains. I also think it's good for me and my holidays (laughs). We had a great feeling with the basketball club, the town and I want to make something happen here for the long term. We have a deal for three years and next year some coaches will be here too.