Gobert wants to help France write another great chapter in its history at China 2019
FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019..
SALT LAKE CITY (United States) - France reached the podium at the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time in Spain five years ago. Rudy Gobert was part of that team and the big man hopes to write another great chapter in the history of French basketball this summer in China.
As a 22-year-old, the 2.16m (7ft 1in) center averaged 4.1 points and 4.7 rebounds at Spain 2014 where Les Bleus stunned hosts Spain on their way to finishing third, for their first-ever medal finish at FIBA's flagship competition.
A year later, Gobert upped his production to the tune of 10.4. points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.1 steals as France finished third at the FIBA EuroBasket 2015,
The Utah Jazz center big man tallied 5.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks for France at the Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament 2016, where Les Bleus lost in the Quarter-Finals.
Gobert returned to the national team during last year's June-July window of the European Qualifiers for China 2019, averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks.
He now looks forward to helping France prove it belongs among the very best teams in the world, as he told FIBA.basketball.
France have been drawn into Group G alongside Dominican Republic, Jordan and Germany. What do you make of that?
I really like the group we're in. It’s a good one and all the teams are going to be competitive. We want to get the first spot and go to the next round with the best record. We're ambitious, we want to have a great run and show that France is one of the best national teams in the world. This is going to be a great competition, we are all very excited to go to China and compete on the world stage and we will be ready to give our best. We know Germany and a bit about Dominican Republic, but I don't know that much about Jordan. At this level, every team can play very well and is a dangerous opponent so we'll play every game with the same focus and determination.
How ambitious will France be at China 2019?
We will be very ambitious. We want to have a great run and try to fight for the top spots. Nothing is impossible. We want to fight for the best and we would like to write another great chapter in France's basketball history. The level of the competition is going to be very high, so a lot of teams can reach the top three spots. Australia, Canada, Lithuania and many more teams are also very ambitious, so we'll have to bring our A game to get to the top spots.
How big of a goal is it for you to play for the national team this summer?
It’s one of my goals for this year and I'm looking forward to competing in China this summer. I want to wear the "bleu" jersey this summer and represent my country. We've been talking with Boris Diaw and the coaching staff about the program and the training camp. I'm excited for this summer.
Along with Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier and Nando De Colo, you are now among the pillars and leaders of the team. How do you see that role?
I know I have responsibilities in the team but the team is most important and it will always be like this for me. I care about the group, about the jersey, about all of us representing France in the best way and winning medals and titles. The team chemistry is great and we have great years ahead of us. France has been having a great decade of performances and we all want to keep this going. We have all the tools to do so and we all want to win more and more medals with the national team.
Talking about performances, everybody still remembers France's great run in 2014. What do you remember the most about this campaign?
I have so many good memories about that tournament. The (Quarter-Finals) win against Spain, the training camp to get ready for the competition, the 3rd-Place Game and the joy we all shared by winning this bronze medal. It was an amazing experience. Nobody expected us to have such a good run and we did very well. Never underestimate any team in any competition. We had some very good games and we won a medal. It was five years ago already and we want to do something great again this summer in China. When you win a medal or a title with the national team, that is such a special and amazing feeling. I want more of that.
Have you had any conversations yet with your Utah Jazz teammates Joe Ingles (Australia) and Raul Neto (Brazil) that will compete with their respective national teams in China?
(Laughs) Yes we have already. We joke a bit about it and it would be funny to play against each other during the tournament. They are very good friends but I want France to win, so if we play Brazil or Australia, sorry guys but I will do everything for my national team to win (laughs). I want them to have a great tournament, but I want France to win.