Saddled without their key depth — Boris Diaw joined Nicolas Batum and Ronny Turiaf on the sidelines because of insurance issues with the NBA — France suited up nine players against Belarus.
Tony Parker, a month removed from an injury that damaged 99% of his left cornea, was pressed into playing like France’s best player.
Conveniently that is not a tall order for Parker because, well, he is their best player. While Parker looks different aesthetically, he will wear protective glasses for the Olympics, he’s still the same blindingly quick basketball player. An errant shard of glass can hamper his game but his speed is only vulnerable to Father Time in the end.
Since there isn’t too many players with enough lateral quickness to combat his speed at the NBA level, you can safely assume that Belarus, devoid of NBA athleticism, couldn’t either.
Your assumption would be correct. Though France will likely continue to ease Parker into their system they gave him a more extensive role out of necessity. Parker totaled 17 points and 12 assists as he exhibited total control of the game.
Belarus withstood the Parker barrage for the first quarter, as they maintained a five-point deficit. France tacked on another 19 points in the second frame to extend their lead to eight at the half. Still: Belarus remained within striking distance. France never quite delivered the irreparable blow to close the game.
That blow came in the third quarter when Parker’s French team carved the Belarus defense — beginning with a 7-0 run. Though no fault of their own, they were simply overmatched, Belarus began the fourth quarter with an insurmountable 21-point deficit.
Belarus outscored the French team in the final quarter, shaving off the deficit by a point. France finished with a 84-64 victory regardless.
Washington Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin finished with 16 points. Nando De Colo, who officially joined the Spurs today, scored 13 points. As Parker rehabilitates from his injury expect De Colo to handle the ball more as a point guard.
De Colo’s inability to play point is a legitimate fault. If he can grasp the nuances of the position that would be a plus. Yet De Colo, despite his detractors, has the requisite offensive creativity to flourish in the Spurs’ system. There remains hope that he could play both positions for the Spurs next season.