According to a report on FIBA.com, France’s national basketball program has acquired insurance to cover its senior men’s team for the 2011 EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania beginning in August.
That means San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker and Blazers’ wing man Nicolas Batum will be able to play for Les Bleus as France tries to earn an early berth to the 2012 London Olympics.
The French Basketball Federation announced early Tuesday evening that it has obtained insurance for their NBA players.
The recent shutdown in league operations due to the lockout meant that the burden of insuring players had fallen on the federations.
Tuesday’s news from Paris is the biggest and most encouraging sign to date that the biggest stars in international basketball will be able to help their national teams try to qualify for the Olympics.
“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,” an FFBB statement 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 all the players medical examinations at INSEP in Paris last week, Team France doctors viewed an old injury of Noah’s dating back three months.
The FFBB said in a statement: “In an act of transparency, the FFBB sent the medical reports to his club and his agent.”
Team France will open their training camp at Pau on Wednesday. When the EuroBasket tips off on August 31, France will be in Group B with Germany, Italy, Serbia, Israel and Latvia.
The two teams that will reach the Final of the 24-team tournament will earn trips to the London Games.
The national teams that finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth at the EuroBasket will be invited to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
While this will help Parker’s conditioning, it’s important to note that he together with Manu Ginobili are two of the biggest star players in San Antonio.
As Spurs fans we can only wish them luck in their attempt to help their respective home countries to earn tickets to the London Olympics in 2012.
More importantly, we hope that all Spurs players/draftees participating in the Olympic qualifiers will avoid any significant injuries that will surely impact the Spurs’ bid for another title when the NBA season resumes.