The French National Team of Under 18 was a huge performer two years ago at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament where they won it all, and in beauty. Nicolas Batum got elected MVP and Alexis Ajinca took the trophy for the "most talented player" and the team did not lose one game. However, this year, everything has changed for the designated successors of Tony Parker.
Nobody expected of Philippe Ory’s team to be as good as the 1988 generation that won in 2006. Everybody who attended the tournament saw a team for the books around super prospect Nicolas Batum. Alexis Ajinca, Antoine Diot, Edwin Jackson or Kim Tillie formed a team that is not even close to what the French show right now in Mannheim.
A bunch of individuals, with very limited talent (in comparison to the 2006 team) and even worse without any will, is playing in the tournament and finally won their first game yesterday; against New Zealand. Losing by 23 to Croatia, 4 to Israel, 8 to the USA and by 4 against Greece is not a shame, but the problems is on the court and in the attitude area.
We spoke after the loss to Israel with the coach Philippe Ory, and he was extremely disappointed by the showing of his team. The lack of fighting spirit, tactically limits in attacking the zone and no consistent Playmaking were the main causes of the disastrous results for him. But still he has high hopes as he considers the semi-finals as the goal for the 2008 U18 European Championships. We wish him all the best, but we have some doubts that this group can increase their playing level in that direction. At least we have some ideas for them to look at in this video clip of their predecessors.[youtube 0PGXvjBJKUE]