NEW YORK (NBA/Olympics) – France’s national team head into their first Olympics in 12 years but they will do so with high expectations.
After reaching the Final of the last Eurobasket, "Les Bleus" want to demonstrate their improvement in London this summer.
Led by superstar guard Tony Parker as well as the trio of Nicolas Batum, Joakim Noah and Boris Diaw, France will be a tough opponent to beat and a solid contender for a medal position.
Other players like Ronny Turiaf can be excellent additions to a team that has been waiting for more than a decade to participate in the Olympics again.
Dealing with injuries for most of the season and twice traded in the last seven months, Turiaf experienced a complicated season until he was signed by the Miami Heat in March.
Recruited for his defensive skills, the former Gonzaga center helped the Heat win the championship against the Oklahoma Thunder.
After losing in the NBA Finals in 2008 against the Boston Celtics as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Turiaf was successful in his second attempt at winning a ring.
“It’s something beautiful to win a title, even more so when you had been defeated in the Finals a few years ago,” Turiaf told FIBA.com.
“It was very tough to win the ring, but we’ve been working so hard to reach the top of the league.”
And while Turiaf didn't get much playing time in the last few games, he feels he contributed in helping win the title.
“I know that I wasn’t playing 25 minutes per game, but I gave my best every single moment I spent on the court. I was here to help my teammates, motivate them and support them no matter what,” he said.
“I’m not the most talented player in the world, but I know exactly what I have to do in a team.”
“I’ve been going through a lot of things, my heart problem and my successive injuries, for example, but today, I consider this title a reward for my hard work.”
A member of the French national team since 2003, Turiaf has been one of the most regular players of the team even if he didn’t participate in last year's EuroBasket in Lithuania due to a broken hand injury.
“I love playing for the national team, it has always been an honour for me to play for my country,” he admitted.
“I was so happy for my teammates to win a silver medal in Lithuania. France proved in this tournament that we are one of the best teams in the world.”
“The team showed that we have the talent to reach a medal in the next Olympics for sure.”
A member of the preliminary squad ahead of the Olympics, Turiaf will do his best to get a spot on the final roster for London.
“I’m going to give my all to be on the team that will compete in London,” he said.
“I know that there’s a lot of very good centers, like Joakim Noah and Kevin Séraphin for example, but I’ll try to make it. In all cases, I’ll respect coach’s decision and support my country in any circumstances.”
“I’ve been dreaming about playing in the Olympics since my childhood. It would be fantastic for my teammates and myself to participate in this competition.”