Gilas Pilipinas will have another less rival to worry about.
Promising center Rudy Gobert has already expressed his plans of skipping the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila as he intends to give himself a chance to recuperate from several injuries that slowed him down during the 2015-1026 NBA season.
In an interview with sportando.com over the weekend, the 7-foot-1 Gobert, 23, disclosed that he plans to stay in Salt Lake City to recover, making him doubtful to play in the Manila OQT set from July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena that dangles a lone ticket to this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
But if the Frenchmen, collectively known as the Les Blues, qualify for the world’s grandest sporting conclave, Gobert will make himself available.
“Yeah, I won’t play in Manila at OQT,” Gobert was quoted as saying. “This season I had several injuries, so Jazz want me to stay in Salt Lake in June to work on my body. But I’ve already said to (coach Vincent) Collet that I’ll be able to play in Rio, if we reach the qualification.”
Aside from Gobert, the Les Blues will also likely miss the services of Charlotte Hornets wingman Nicolas Batum and San Antonio Spurs veteran forward Boris Diaw, who will become free agents at the end of the current NBA season.
The development should be a welcoming development to France’s rivals in the OQT, including host Philippines, its opening-day opponent in Group B.
Dubbed as the ‘Stifle Tower’ for his immense defensive presence, Gobert played for France during the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, averaging 4.1 points per game during their run to a bronze medal finish.
He also suited up for France during its another bronze medal finish during the EuroBasket which it hosted last year. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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