France may head to the 2010 FIBA World Championship minus their biggest star with San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker now admitting he may take the summer off with the national team to rest.
Gregg Popovich’s Spurs (23-13) have been winning a lot of games with the 27-year-old Parker running the point, including a 105-85 blowout of a shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old Parker has scored at least 21 points in four of the last five games, including 22 against the Lakers, but his scoring average of 16.7 points per contest is his lowest in five years and the superstar says he’s just plain tired.
“I just think I’ve played too much basketball,” Parker said to nba.com.
“I’ve played five summers in a row, and I think it’s about time I need a rest.
“It’s going to be tough. The contract’s coming up, and Pop wants me to play well every night.
“Sometimes it’s tough because you know you play all these championship runs and every year I play for the national team. Every year.
“This year is the first year I’ve found my body is a little bit tired, you know?
“So I’ll have to make some decisions, because I’m not Superman.
“I can’t do 82 games at the level Pop wants, and then play on the national team.”
No one can play forever, and if Parker can’t make it to Turkey, France would be without their biggest name.
Not many teams can overcome the loss of superstars although the United States, Spain and probably France can cope better than most.
Promising youngsters like Antoine Diot of Le Mans, the MVP of their win against Turkey at the EuroBasket that clinched a spot in the FIBA World Championship for France, would certainly be ready to fill the void.
France has shown in the past that they can win games without Parker.
Last summer, in their biggest game of the EuroBasket Additional Qualifying Round at Italy, Parker did not play yet France won in overtime and the victory effectively propelled them into the EuroBasket.
Four years ago at the FIBA World Championship in Japan, Parker broke his finger just days before the start of the tournament yet Les Bleus still came in fifth.
Parker is not the only Spur who is involved with is country’s national team program.
Popovich’s assistant, Brett Brown, is the coach of Australia. Matt Bonner is expected to play for Canada this year and Ian Manhinmi is an emerging French center who recently had 15 points, nine rebounds and a block in 21 minutes of the Spurs’ 97-85 win over New Jersey. Manhinmi looks a good bet to make the France squad for a second straight year.
San Antonio also has Manu Ginobili, the most famous player in the history of Argentinian basketball.
Ginobili did not play at the FIBA Americas Championships in 2005 or 2007 but still represented his country the following years at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and the 2008 Olympics. Argentina fans will be hoping that the 32-year-old, who missed last year’s FIBA Americas Championship as well, will suit up again for Argentina in Turkey.