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FRA - Tchatchouang out to build on debut with Les Bleues

Diandra Tchatchouang (FRA)
Diandra Tchatchouang (FRA) - EuroBasket Women 2013

CLERMONT-FERRAND (FIBA World Championship for Women) - Diandra Tchatchouang got a taste of her first senior tournament last year when she stepped out with the French team on home soil and that experience has heightened her appetite for the forthcoming FIBA World Championship for Women.

The 23-year-old is one of the players in the French training camp starting today in Clermont-Ferrand to begin preparations for their mission in Turkey.

"EuroBasket Women was very special for me," revealed Tchatchouang.

"I got to play at my first major tournament with the senior team at home and in front of family and friends - I couldn't have asked for a better timing.

"The team chemistry was great and we had the loudest crowd ever. The fans really pushed us all the way and I enjoyed every minute of it except for the title game!

"Now we've started our camp for Turkey with around 20 players, I'm really excited about playing with the national team again.

"Our group is tough, but I honestly think all the teams will be hard to play. It's going to be a high level competition, so obviously you want to be ready from the beginning.

"It's exciting, but this is exactly what we like!

"Most of the team has changed since London 2012, even the coach.

"Last year was definitely a learning experience for us, so we are looking forward to utilising what we learned and trying to be the best team we can possibly be.

"Our national team has been playing really well for the past four or five years, so we have to keep up that good work."

Tchatchouang spent last season alongside France head coach Valerie Garnier at club level, with the pair employed by Tango Bourges.

And, as the-play caller prepares to embark on her first tournament in the hot-seat, the forward is backing her to be a success.

"Coach Garnier used to play herself, so she knows everything her players need," insisted Tchatchouang.

"She will always push you no matter what the circumstances are.

"And when we are working in Bourges she is not only the team coach, she will also work individually with each of us."

The Villepinte native is making quite an impression and is already becoming someone that French youth level players are looking up to.

Rising star Ornella Bankole revealed at the recent FIBA U17 World Championship for Women that Tchatchouang was the player she admired most.

"I'm glad to hear that," smiled the forward.

"There are so many youth talents in France and our younger sides in the form of the U18 and U20 teams have done so well at the European Championship events and this is good for our future.

"When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of professional basketball. The big rivalry was always Bourges against Valenciennes.

"Watching them play was when I realised that one day I would love to be there with them - they really did inspire me!

"I loved watching Cathy Melain and Sandra LeDrean play. They were two versatile players that were able to do everything on the court and I loved their game!

"I also liked Krissy Bade and the energy she used to show at both ends of the floor."

Yet as far as Tchatchouang is concerned, there is only one player to look up to and that remains 'King James' - as she quickly offers an endorsement of LeBron James and his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"He decided to go back home and I actually love the move he made," she declared.

"He is doing it his way, no matter what anybody says or thinks and I really respect that!

"His game improves every season, so he will always be my favourite player."

At the FIBA World Championship for Women, Tchatchouang and her team-mates will play in Ankara's Group B against Canada, Mozambique and host nation Turkey.