GENEVA (Olympics) - Dark clouds may have started to gather over international basketball when the NBA lockout was announced a few weeks ago because of fears that star players could miss Olympic qualifying events, but the sun is shining now.
With the burden of insuring players on the national basketball federations due to the shutdown in NBA league operations, and worries that the costs would be too great for some to meet, France announced this week that all of their NBA stars would compete at the EuroBasket.
Russia coach David Blatt has also confirmed to FIBA.com that NBA forward and EuroBasket 2007 MVP Andrei Kirilenko will be in Lithuania competing for the national team.
"He'll be with us 100% when we go to our first training camp outside Russia,” Blatt said, with Kirilenko having not featured for Russia since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“In less than a week he'll be joining us.
"The insurance issue is something that I do not handle but our federation is completely on top of it and has taken care of that.
“In Andrei's case, I believe it's already done.”
The French Basketball Federation (FFBB) issued a statement early Tuesday evening to confirm the presence of their NBA players.
"Even before the formalization of the NBA lockout on July 1, 2011, the French Basketball Federation began working on insurance contracts of employment of selected players, in particular by proposing a pooling of insurance for all the federations concerned," the FFBB said.
"To this day, and thanks to this French initiative, the coverage of the players is finalized."
One pressing concern for France, however, is the status of Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.
While giving the players medical examinations at INSEP in Paris last week, Team France doctors viewed an old ankle injury of Noah’s dating back three months.
Noah had the opportunity to remain in France but elected to go back to the United States to rehabilitate his injury there.
"It´s more comfortable and less frustrating for me to remain there (in Chicago) in order to be cared for,” said Noah, who could have remained in Pau where the French are training.
“That will allow me to return.
“As soon as my ankle is better, I will return right away."
According to L’Equipe, Noah will need two and a half weeks of treatment before he rejoins his teammates to get ready for the EuroBasket in Lithuania.
While Houston Rockets guard Goran Dragic “will play 110% sure” for Slovenia at the EuroBasket, according to the basketball federation’s deputy secretary general Matej Avanzo, there are federations that have yet to confirm the presence of NBA players.
Among those nations are Argentina, who are hosting the FIBA Americas Championship and have NBA stars Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni in the squad.
Australia have all but ruled out having Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut because of the cost of his insurance, but both China and Iran expect to have respective NBA big men Yi Jianlian and Hamed Haddadi when they compete at the FIBA Asia Championship.