De Colo prepares for one last hurrah with France

De Colo prepares for one last hurrah with France

VILLEURBANNE (France) – The time is quickly approaching when Nando de Colo will draw the curtain on his long and successful career with France.

A precocious, dynamic talent when he burst onto the national team scene – he had 28 points on his debut against Belgium in 2008 – De Colo will go down as one of his country’s finest ever players.

He won the FIBA EuroBasket 2013 title, was in the All-Star Five when France hosted EuroBasket 2015 and finished third, and was a star in arguably the best French team ever in 2021 when Les Bleus claimed an Olympic silver medal.

Out of contract at the end of this season with ASVEL, De Colo can continue playing professionally. A decision has yet to be made.

But when it comes to France’s national team?

He told Euroleague France: “The only thing I am sure of: this summer with the French team, it will be my last campaign. I will do everything to be part of the adventure, and then for it to be a great adventure.

France will announce their roster on May 16. How many names will be on the preliminary list? Head coach Vincent Collet recently said that selecting the guards will be the most challenging task in a long time. The training camp could be a very intense one for France.

The dream scenario for De Colo, if he proves his fitness and worth to France after an injury-plagued club season, is that he helps the national team win a gold medal in Paris. The French were so close three years ago in Tokyo when he was at the controls as starting point guard, first beating the USA in their opening game and then pushing the Americans to the very end of the Gold Medal Game.

The USA dug deep and held on for a. 87-82 triumph.

De Colo returned to the team for the World Cup but France fell to Canada and Latvia in the First Round and had a very disappointing tournament.

Latvia’s dramatic win finished off France at last year’s World Cup

“Today is it good to say that we want the gold medal like we did last year?” he asked.

“I don’t know. We clearly took a beating last summer, it was a real disappointment. It was a big cold shower because it happened in a very short time, even if each time it takes a whole summer for the French team!

“There, it was a matter of two games that changed everything. Behind, we didn’t have the chance to pull ourselves together. We scattered when we were in difficulty and then we suffered.

“I hope that this summer, we will have learned from what happened in 2023 and that from the start, not of the tournament but of the preparation, we will all be present to do the maximum collectively.

“Now, the Olympics in France, there will inevitably be a certain pressure. It will be up to us to do the best we can depending on who will be present.”

As it stands now, De Colo would bring a lot of positives to the team. One would be his versatility, which came to the fore three years ago at the Tokyo Games.

“When we won the silver medal at the Olympics,” he said, “It was because Frank (Ntilikina) and Andrew (Albicy) were injured that I moved back to position one.”

THE ONLY THING I AM SURE OF: THIS SUMMER WITH THE FRENCH TEAM, IT WILL BE MY LAST…

He averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds at that Olympics. In the Final against the USA, De Colo was brilliant. He finished with 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds. 

“From one summer to the next, my role may change. We just have to discuss it with the coach and see what we can do.”

Another positive would be his experience.

“I know that today, what I have to bring to the team is the experience with the three Olympic campaigns that I did with Les Bleus,” he said.

“We’re going to do our best to get a medal because we know how difficult it is to spend a whole summer and come back with nothing. Afterwards the circle will be closed for me.”

Even so, De Colo concedes he may not even be thinking about the Olympics if France were not hosts. 

“If the Olympics hadn’t been in France maybe I would have hung up sooner,” he said. “But I think I’m still able to help the team. It’s an honor to be able to wear the blue jersey and what’s more for the Olympics which are taking place in France.”

Whether he plays at the Olympics or not, De Colo is assured of going down as one of the all-time greats in the history of the French national team. This summer could mark the last dance for many stars. Rudy Fernandez of Spain has also recently announced that this campaign will be his last with the national team.

Let’s enjoy these legends while we still can.

 FIBA 

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